Indian Home Rule
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Original editor & publisher (1938):
Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Publishing House
Translation of “Hind Swaraj”,
published in the Gujarat columns of Indian Opinion.
11th and 18th December, 1909
Published by Yann FORGET
on 20th July 2003, with HTpX2 £ .
(c) Navajivan Trust, 1938
I Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule 5
To the reader 6
Preface to the new edition 7
An Important Publication 7
The Attack on Machinery and Civilization 8
Limitations of the Doctrine 10
A Word of Explanation 15
A Message 17
I. The Congress and its Officials 19
II. The Partition of Bengal 22
III. Discontent and unrest 24
IV. What is swaraj? 25
V. The condition of England 27
VI. Civilization 29
VII. Why was India lost? 31
VIII. The condition of India 33
IX. The condition of India: Railways 35
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
X. The condition of India: The Hindus and the Mahomedans 37
XI. The condition of India: Lawyers 41
XII. The condition of India: Doctors 43
XIII. What is true civilization? 45
XIV. How can India become free? 47
XV. Italy and India 49
XVI. Brute force 51
XVII. Passive resistance 55
XVIII. Education 60
XIX. Machinery 63
XX. Conclusion 65
II Appendices 70
I. Some Authorithies 71
II. Testimonies by eminent men 72
Victor Cousin 72
J. Seymour Keay 72
Friedrich Max Mueller 73
Michael G. Mulhall 73
Colonel Thomas Munro 73
Frederick von Schlegel 73
Sir William Wedderburn 74
I. Young 74
Abbe J. A. Dubois 74
Indian Home Rule
To the reader
I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in
them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search after Truth, I
have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am in age, I have no feeling that
I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh. What I
am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment,
and, therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he
has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the later of the two on the same subject.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Harijan, 29-04-1933, page 2.
Preface to the new edition
[In issuing this new edition of Hind Swaray, it may not be inappropriate to publish the
following that I wrote in the Harijan in connection of the Hind Swaraj Special Number of the
Aryan Path. Though Gandhiji’s views as expressed in the first edition of the Hind Swaraj have
remained in substance unchanged, they have gone through a necessary evolution. My article
copied below throws some light on this evolution. The proof copy of this edition has been
revised by numerous friends to whom I am deeply indebted.]
An Important Publication
Unique in its conception and beautifully successful in its execution is the Special Swaraj
Number of the Aryan Path. It owes its appearance mainly to the devoted labours of that gifted
sister Shrimati Sophia Wadia who sent copies of Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule to numerous
friends abroad and invited the most prominent of them to express their views on the book and
seen in it the hope for future India, but she wanted the European thinkers and writers to say
that it had in it the potency to help even Europe out of its chaos, and therefore she thought of
this plan. The result is remarkable. The special number contains articles by Professor Soddy,
G. D. H. Cole, C. Delisle Bums, John Middleton Murry, J. D. Beresford, Hugh Fausset, Claude
Houghton, Gerald Heard and Irene Rathbone. Some of these are of course well-known pacifists
and socialists. One wonders what the number would have been like, if it had included in it articles
by non-pacifist and non-socialist writers! The articles are so arranged “that adverse criticisms
and objections raised in earlier articles are mostly answered in subsequent ones”. But there are
one or two criticisms which have been made practically by all the writers, and it would be worth
while considering them here.
There are certain things which it would be well to recognize at once. Thus Professor Soddy
remarks that, having just returned from a visit to India, he saw little outwardly to suggest that the
doctrine inculcated in the book had attainted any considerable measure of success. That is quite
true. Equally true is Mr. G. D. H. Cole’s remark that though Gandhiji’s is “as near as a man can
be to Swaraj in a purely personal sense, he has never solved, to his own satisfaction, the other
problem — that of finding terms of collaboration that could span the gulf between man and man,
between acting alone and helping others to act in accordance with their lights, which involves
acting with them and as one of them — being at once one’s self and someone else, someone one’s
self can and must regard and criticize and attempt to value.” Also as John Middleton Murry says,
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
“the efficacy of non-violence is quickly exhausted when used as a mere technique of political
pressure”, — when the question arises, “Is non-violence faute de mieux, really non-violence at
But the whole process is one of endless evolution. In working for the end, man also works
for perfecting the means. The principle of non-violence and love was enunciated by Buddha
and Christ centuries ago. It has been applied through these centuries by individual people with
success on small clear-cut issues. As it has been recognized, and as Gerald Heard has pointed
out, “the world-wide and age-long interest of Mr. Gandhi’s experiment lies in the fact that he has
attempted to make the method work in what may be called the wholesale or national scale.” The
difficulties of that application are obvious, but Gandhiji trusts that they are not insurmountable.
The experiment seemed impossible in India in 1921 and had to be abandoned, but what was then
impossible became possible in 1930. Even now the question often arises: “What is a non-violent
means?” It will take long practice to standardize the meaning and content of this term. But
the means thereof is self-purification and more self-purification. What Western thinkers often
lose sight of is that the fundamental condition of non-violence is love, and pure unselfish love is
impossible without unsullied purity of mind and body.
The Attack on Machinery and Civilization
What is a common feature of all the other appreciative reviews of the book is in the review-
ers’ opinion Gandhiji’s unwarranted condemnation of machinery. “He forgets, in the urgency of
his vision,” says Middleton Murry, “that the very spinning wheel he loves is also a machine, and
also unnatural. On his principles it should be abolished.” “This,” says Professor Delisle Burns,
“is a fundamental philosophical error. It implies that we are to regard as morally evil any instru-
ment which may be misused. But even the spinning wheel is a machine; and spectacles on the
nose are mere mechanisms for “bodily” eyesight. The plough is a machine; and the very earliest
mechanisms for drawing water are themselves only the later survivals of perhaps ten thousand
years of human effort to improve the live of men. . . Any mechanism may be misused; but if it
is, the moral evil is in the man who misuses it, not in the mechanism.” I must confess that in
“the urgency of his vision” Gandhiji has used rather crude language about machinery, which if
he were revising the book he would himself alter. For I am sure Gandhiji would accept all the
statements I have quoted here, and he has never attributed to mechanisms moral qualities which
belong to the men who use them. Thus in 1924, he used language which is reminiscent of the
two writers I have just quoted. I shall reproduced a dialogue that took place in Delhi. Replying
to a question whether he was against all machinery, Gandhiji said:
“How can I be when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machin-
ery? The spinning wheel is a machine; a little toothpick is a machine. What I object
to is the craze for machinery, not machinery as such. The craze is for what they
call labour-saving machinery. Men go on “saving labour” till thousands are without
work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want to save time and
labour not for a fraction of mankind but for all. I want the concentration of wealth,
not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a
few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not the philanthropy
to save labour, but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am fighting
with all my might. . . The supreme consideration is man. The machine should not
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
tend to atrophy the limbs of man. For instance, I would make intelligent exceptions.
Take the case of the Singer’s sewing machine. It is one of the few useful things ever
invented, and there is a romance about the device itself.”
“But,” asked the questioner, “there would have to be a factory for making these sewing
machines, and it would have to contain power-driven machinery of ordinary types.”
“Yes,” said Gandhiji in reply, “but I am socialist enough to say that such factories should be
nationalized, State-controlled. . . The saving of the labour of the individual should be the object,
and not human greed the motive. Thus, for instance, I would welcome any day a machine to
straighten crooked spindles. Not that blacksmiths will cease to make spindles; they will continue
to provide spindles but when the spindle goes wrong every spinner will have a machine to get it
straight. Therefore replace greed by love and everything will be all right.”
“But,” said the quetsioner, “if you make an exception of the Singer’s sewing machine and
your spindle, where would these exceptions end?”
“Just where they cease to help the individual and encroach upon his individuality. The
machine should not be allowed to cripple the limbs of man.”
“But, ideally, would you not rule out all machinery? When you except the sewing machine,
you will have to make exceptions of the bicycle, the motor car, etc.”
“No, I don’t,” he said, “because they do not satisfy any of the primary wants of man; for it
is not the primary need of man to traverse distances with the rapidity of a motor car. The needle
on the contrary happens to be an essential thing in life, a primary need.”
But he added: “Ideally, I would rule out all machinery, even as I would reject this very body,
which is not helpful to salvation, and seek the absolute liberation of the soul. From that point
of view I would reject all machinery, but machines will remain because, like the body, they are
inevitable. The body itself, as I told you, is the purest piece of mechanism; but if it is a hindrance
to the highest flights of the soul, it has to be rejected.”
I do not think any of the critics would be in fundamental disagreement with this position.
The machine is, like the body, useful if and only to the extent that it subserves the growth of the
Similarly about Western civilization, Mr. G. D. H. Cole counters the proposition that “West-
ern civilization is of sharp necessity at enmity with the human soul”: “I say that the horrors
of Spain and Abyssinia, the perpetual fear that hangs over us, the destitution in the midst of
potential plenty, are defects, grave defects, of our Western civilization, but are not of its very
essence. . . I do not say that we shall mend this civilization of ours; but I do not believe it to be
past mending. I do not believe that it rests upon a sheer denial of what is necessary to the human
soul.” Quite so, and the defects Gandhiji pointed out were not inherent defects, but the defects
of its tendencies, and Gandhiji’s object in the book was to contrast the tendencies of the Indian
civilization with those of the Western. Gandhiji would wholly agree with G. D. H. Cole that
Western civilization is not past mending, also that the West will need a “Home Rule” after the
fashion of the West, and also conceived by “leaders who are masters of themselves, as Gandhi
is, but masters after our Western fashion, which is not his, or India’s.”
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Limitations of the Doctrine
G. D. H. Cole has put the following poser: “Is it so when German and Italian airmen are mas-
sacring the Spanish people, when Japanese airmen are slaughtering thousands upon thousands
in Chinese cities, when German armies have marched into Austria and are threatening to march
into Czechoslovakia, when Abyssinia has been bloodily bombed into defeat? Until two years
ago or so, I believed myself opposed to war and death-dealing violence under all circumstances.
But today, hating war, I would risk war to stop these horrors.” How acute is the struggle within
himself is apparent from the sentences that follow: “I would risk war; and yet, even now, that
second self of mine shrinks back appalled at the thought of killing a man. Personally, I would
much sooner die than kill. But may it not my duty to try to kill rather than to die? Gandhi might
answer that no such dilemma could confront a man who had achieved his personal Swaraj. I do
not claim to have achieved mine; but I am unconvinced that the dilemma would confront me,
here and now in Western Europe, less disturbingly if I had.”
Occasions like those Mr. Cole has mentioned test one’s faith, but the answer has been given
by Gandhiji more than once, though he has not completely achieved his Swaraj, for the simple
reason that for him Swaraj is incomplete so long as his fellow-beings are bereft of it. But he
lives in faith, and the faith in non-violence does not begin to shake at the mention of Italian or
Japanese barbarities. For violence breeds the results of violence, and once you start the game
there is no limit to be drawn. Philip Mumford in the War Resister has replied as follows to a
Chinese friend urging action on behalf of China:
“Your enemy is the Japanese Government and not the Japanese peasants and soldiers
— unfortunate and uneducated people who do not even know why they are being
asked to fight. Yet, if you use ordinary military methods of defending your country,
it is these guiltless people who are not your real enemies whom you must kill. If only
China would try and preserve herself by the non-violent tactics used by Gandhiji in
India, tactics which are indeed far more in accordance with the teachings of her
great religious leaders, she would, I venture to say, be far more successful than she
will be copying the militarist methods of Europe. . . Surely it is a lesson to mankind in
general that the Chinese, the most pacific people on earth, have preserved themselves
and their civilization for a longer period in history than any of the warlike races.
Please do not think we do not honour those gallant Chinese who are fighting in
defence of their country. We honour their sacrifice and recognize that they hold
different principles from ourselves. None the less we believe that killing is evil in
all circumstances and out of it good cannot come. Pacifism will not spare you from
all suffering, but in the long run, it is, I believe, a more effective weapon against the
would-be conqueror than all your fighting forces; and what is more important, it will
keep alive the ideals of your race.”
Miss Irene Rathbone poses a similar question: “What human being on this earth, normal
or saint-like, can endure that small boys and girls should perish if, by bowing to the tyrant and
denying his own conscience, he can save them? That question Gandhi does not answer. He does
not even pose it. . . Christ is clearer. . . Here are his words: “But whose shall offend one of these
little ones, which believe in me, it were better that millstone were hanged about his neck and
that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” . . . Christ is a greater help to us than Gandhi. . . ”
I do not think Christ’s words express anything more than his wrath, and the action suggested
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
is not by way of punishment to be imposed by another on the offender, but one to be imposed
on himself by himself. And is Miss Rathbone sure that she can, by using what she supposes to
be Christ’s method, save the child? She is wrong in thinking that Gandhiji has not posed the
question. He has posed it and answered it emphatically, as it was posed and answered in action
by those immortal Muslim martyrs 1300 years ago who suffered women and children to die of
hunger and thirst rather than bow to the tyrant and deny their own conscience. For, in bowing
to the tyrant and denying your own conscience, you encourage the tyrant to perpetrate further
But even Miss Irene Rathbone calls Hind Swaraj “an enormously powerful book”, and says
that by virtue of it she has found “myself forced by its tremendous honesty to search my own
honesty. I would implore people to read it.”
The Editors of the Aryan Path have done a distinct service to the cause of peace and non-
violence by issuing their Hind Swaraj Special Number.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
When Lord Lothian was at Segaon, he asked me if I could give him a copy of Hind Swaray,
for, as he said, all that Gandhiji was teaching now lay in the germ in that little book which
deserved to be read and re-read in order to understand Gandhiji properly.
Curiously enough, about the same time, Shrimati Sophia Wadia was writing an article on the
book exhorting all our Ministers and M.L.A.s, all the British and Indian Civil Servants, indeed
every one who wanted the present non-violent experiment in democracy to succeed, to read and
re-read the book. “How can a non-violent man be a dictator in his own home?” she asks. “How
can he be a wine-bibber? How can a lawyer advise his client to go to court and fight?” The
answers to all these questions raise highly important practical issues. The people’s education in
Hind Swaraj , in which these problems are dealt with from the point of view of principles, should
be extensively carried on.”
Her appeal is timely. The book was written in 1908, during Gandhiji’s return voyage from
London, in answer to the Indian school of violence and published serially in the columns of the
Indian Opinion , edited by Gandhiji. Then it was published in book form, to be proscribed by
the Bombay Government. Gandhiji had translated the book for Mr. Kallenbach. In answer to
the Bombay Government’s action, he published the English translation. When Gokhale saw the
translation, on his visit to South- Africa in 1912, he thought it so crude and hastily conceived
that he prophesied that Gandhiji himself would destroy the book after spending a year in India.
With deference to the memory of the great teacher, I may say that his prediction has failed to
come true. In 1921, Gandhiji, writing about it, said: “It teaches the gospel of love in place of
that of hate. It replaces violence with self-sacrifice. It pits soul force against brute force. I
withdraw nothing except one word of it, and that in deference to a lady friend. The booklet is a
severe condemnation of “modern civilization”. It was written in 1908. My conviction is deeper
today than ever. . . But I would warn the reader against thinking that I am today aiming at the
Swaraj described therein. I know that India is not ripe for it. It may seem an impertinence to say
so. But such is my conviction. I am individually working for the self-rule pictured therein. But
today my corporate activity is undoubtedly devoted to the attainment of Parliamentary Swaraj, in
accordance with the wishes of the people of India.” Even in 1938, he would alter nothing in the
book, except perhaps the language in some parts. It is being presented to the reader unabridged.
But whether India may be ripe for it or not, it is best for Indians to study the seminal book
which contains the ultimate logical conclusion of the acceptance of the twin principles of Truth
and Non-violence, and then decide whether these principles should be accepted or rejected. On
being told that the book had been out of print for some time and that a few copies of its Madras
edition were available at eight annas a copy, Gandhiji said that it should be published immedi-
ately at a nominal price, so that it may be within easy reach of those who may wish to read it.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
The Navajivan Publishing House is therefore publishing it at practically the cost price.
A Word of Explanation
It is certainly my good fortune that this booklet of mine is receiving wide attention. The
original is in Gujarati. It has a chequered career. It was first published in the columns of the
Indian Opinion of South- Africa. It was written in 1908 during my return voyage from London
to South- Africa in answer to the Indian school of violence and its prototype in South-Africa. I
came in contact with every known Indian anarchist in London. Their bravery impressed me, but
I felt that violence was no remedy for India’s ills, and that her civilization required the use of
a different and higher weapon for self-protection. The Satyagraha of South-Africa was still an
infant hardly two years old. But it had developed sufficiently to permit me to write of it with
some degree of confidence. What I wrote was so much appreciated that it was published as a
booklet. It attracted some attention in India. The Bombay Government prohibited its circulation.
I replied by publishing its translation. I thought it was due to my English friends that they should
know its contents.
In my opinion it is a book which can be put into the hands of a child. It teaches the gospel
of love in place of that of hate. It replaces violence with self-sacrifice. It pits sould force against
brute force. It has gone through several editions and I commend it to those who would care to
read it. I withdraw nothing except one word of it, and that in deference to a lady friend.
The booklet is a severe condemnation of “modern civilization”. It was written in 1908. My
conviction is deeper today than ever. I feel that if India will discard “modern civilization”, sha
can only gain by doing so.
But I would warn the reader against thinking that I am today aiming at the Swaraj described
therein. I know that India is not ripe for it. It may seem an impertinence to say so. But such is my
conviction. I am individually working for the self-rule pictured therein. But today my corporate
activity is undoubtedly devoted to the attainment of Parliamentary Swaraj, in accordance with
the wishes of the people of India. I am not aiming at destroying railways or hospitals, though I
would certainly welcome their natural destruction. Neither railways nor hospitals are a test of a
high and pure civilization. At best they are a necessary evil. Neither adds one inch to the moral
stature of a nation. Nor I am aiming at a permanent summation devoutly to be wished. Still less
am I trying to destroy all machinery and mills. It requires a higher simplicity and renunciation
than the people are today prepared for.
The only part of the programme which is now being carried out is that of non-violence. But I
regret to have to confess that even that is not being carried out in the spirit of the book. If it were,
India would establish Swaraj in a day. If India adopted the doctrine of love as an active part of
her religion and introduced it in her politics, Swaraj would descend upon India from heaven. But
I am painfully aware that that event is far off as yet.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
I offer these comments because I observe that much is being quoted from the booklet to
discredit the present movement. I have even seen writings suggesting that I am playing a deep
game, that I am using the present turmoil to foist my fads on India, and am making religious
experiments at India’s expense. I can only answer that Satyagraha is made of sterner stuff. There
is nothing reserved and nothing secret in it. A portion of the whole theory of life described in
Hind Swaraj is undoubtedly being carried into practice. There is no danger attendant upon the
whole of it being practised. But it is not right to scare away people by reproducing from my
writings passages that are irrelevant to the issue before the country.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Young India, January, 1921.
I welcome your advertising the principles in defence of which Hind Swaraj was written.
The English edition is a translation of the original which was in Gujarati. I might change the
language here and there, if I had to rewrite the booklet. But after the stormy thirty years through
which I have passed, I have seen nothing to make me alter the views expounded in it. Let the
reader bear in mind that it is a faithful record of conversations I had with workers, one of whom
was an avowed anarchist. He should also know that it stopped the rot that was about to set in
among some Indians in South- Africa. The reader may balance against this the opinion of a dear
friend, who alas! is no more, that it was the production of a fool. 1
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Segaon, July 14th, 1938.
'Reproduced from the Aryan Path, Special Hind Swaraj Number, published in September, 1938.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
The Congress and its Officials
Reader: Just at present there is a Home Rule wave passing over India. All our countrymen
appear to be pining for National Independence. A similar spirit pervades them even in South
Africa. Indians seem to be eager to acquire rights. Will you explain your views in this matter ?
Editor: You have put the question well, but the answer is not easy. One of the objects of
a newspaper is to understand popular feeling and to give expression to it ; another is to arouse
among the people certain desirable sentiments ; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular
defects. The exercise of all these three functions is involved in answering your question. To a
certain extent the people’s will has to be expressed ; certain sentiments will need to be fostered,
and defects will have to be brought to light. But, as you have asked the question, it is my duty to
Reader: Do you then consider that a desire for Home Rule has been created among us ?
Editor: That desire gave rise to the National Congress. The choice of the word “National”
Reader: That surely, is not the case. Young India seems to ignore the Congress. It is
considered to be an instrument for perpetuating British Rule.
Editor: That opinion is not justified. Had not the Grand Old Man of India prepared the
soil, our young men could not have even spoken about Home Rule. How can we forget what Mr.
Hume has written, how he has lashed us into action, and with what effort he has awakened us, in
order to achieve the objects of the Congress ? Sir William Wedderbum has given his body, mind
and money to the same cause. His writings are worthy of perusal to this day. Professor Gokhale
in order to prepare the nation, embraced poverty and gave twenty years of his life. Even now,
he is living in poverty. The late Justice Budruddin Tyebji was also one of those who, through
the Congress, sowed the seed of Home Rule. Similarly, in Bengal, Madras, the Punjab and other
places, there have been lovers of India and members of the Congress, both Indian and English.
Reader: Stay, stay; you are going too far, you are straying away from my question. I have
asked you about Home-or Self-Rule ; you are discussing foreign rule. I do not desire to hear
English names, and you are giving me such names. In these circumstances, I do not think we can
ever meet. I shall be pleased if you will confine yourself to Home Rule. All other talk will not
Editor: You are impatient. I cannot afford to be likewise. If you will bear with me for a
while, I think you will find that you will obtain what you want. Remember the old proverb that
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
the tree does not grow in one day. The fact that you have checked me and that you do not want to
hear about the well-wishers of India shows that, for you at any rate. Home Rule is yet far away.
If we had many like you, we would never make any advance. This thought is worthy of your
Reader: It seems to me that you simply want to put me off by talking round and round.
Those whom you consider to be well-wishers of India are not such in my estimation. Why, then,
would I listen to your discourse on such people? What has he whom you consider to be the
Father of the Nation done for it? He says that the English Governors will do justice and that we
should co-operate with them.
Editor: I must tell you, with all gentleness, that it must be a matter of shame for us that you
should speak about that great man in terms of disrespect. Just look at his work. He has dedicated
his life to the service of India. We have learned what we know from him. It was the respected
Dadabhai who taught us that the English had sucked our life-blood. What does it matter that,
today, his trust is still in the English nation ? Is Dadabhai less to be honoured because, in the
exuberance of youth, we are prepared to go a step further ? Are we, on that account, wiser than
he ? It is a mark of wisdom not to kick away the very step from which we have risen higher.
The removal of a step from a staircase brings down the whole of it. When, out of infancy, we
grow into youth, we do not depise infancy, but, on the contrary, we recall with affection the days
of our childhood. If after many years of study, a teacher were to teach me something, and if I
were to build a little more on the foundation laid by that teacher, I would not, on that account, be
considered wiser than the teacher. He would always command my respect. Such is the case with
the Grand Old Man of India. We must admit that he is the author of nationalism.
Reader: You have spoken well. I can now understand that we must look upon Mr. Dadab-
hai with respect. Without him and men like him, we should probably not have the spirit that fires
us. How can the same be said of Professor Gokhale ? He has constituted himself a great friend
of the English ; he says that we have to learn a great deal from them, that we have to learn their
political wisdom, before we can talk of Home Rule. I am tired of reading his speeches.
Editor: If you are tired, it only betrays your impatience. We believe that those, who are
discontented with the slowness of their parents and are angry because the parents would not run
with their children, are considered disrespectful to their parents. Professor Gokhale occupies the
place of a parent. What does it matter if he cannot run with us ? A nation that is desirous of
securing Home Rule cannot afford to despise its ancestors. We shall become useless, if we lack
respect for our elders. Only men with mature thoughts are capable of ruling themselves and not
the hasty-tempered. Moreover, how many Indians were there like Professor Gokhale, when he
gave himself to Indian education ? I verily believe that whatever Professor Gokhale does, he
does with pure motives and with a view of serving India. His devotion to the Motherland is so
great that he would give his life for it, if necessary. Whatever he says is said not to flatter anyone
but because he believes it to be true. We are bound, therefore, to entertain the highest regard for
Reader: Are we, then, to follow him in every respect ?
Editor: I never said any such thing. If we conscientiously differed from him, the learned
Professor himself would advise us to follow the dictates of our conscience rather than him. Our
chief purpose is not to decry his work, but to believe that he is infinitely greater then we are, and
to feel assured that compared with his work for India, ours is infinitesimal. Several newspapers
write disrespectfully of him. It is our duty to protest against such writings. We should consider
men like Professor Gokhale to be the pillars of Home Rule. It is bad habit to say that another
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
man’s thoughts are bad and ours only are good and that those holding different views from ours
are the enemies of the country.
Reader: I now begin to understand somewhat your meaning. I shall have to think the
matter over. But what you say about Mr. Hume and Sir William Wedderbum is beyond my
Editor: The same rule holds good for the English as for the Indians. I can never subscribe
to the statement that all Englishmen are bad. Many Englishmen desire Home Rule for India.
That the English people are somewhat more selfish than others is true, but that does not prove
that every Englishman is bad. We who seek justice will have to do justice to others. Sir William
does not wish ill to India, ? that should be enough for us. As we proceed, you will see that, if
we act justly, India will be sooner free. You will see, too, that if we shun every Englishman as
an enemy. Home Rule will be delayed. But if we are just to them, we shall receive their support
in our progress towards the goal.
Reader: All this seems to me at present to be simply nonsensical. English support and the
obtaining of Home Rule are two contradictory things. How can the English people tolerate Home
Rule for us ? But I do not want you to decide this question for me just yet. To spend time over it
is useless. When you have shown how we can have Home rule, perhaps I shall understand your
views. You have prejudiced me against you by discoursing on English help. I would, therefore,
beseech you not to continue this subject.
Editor: I have no desire to do so. That you are prejudiced against me is not a matter for
much anxiety. It is well that I should say unpleasant things at the commencement. It is my duty
patiently to try to remove your prejudice.
Reader: I like that last statement. It emboldens me to say what I like. One thing still
puzzles me. I do not understand how the Congress laid the foundation of Home Rule.
Editor: Let us see. The Congress brought together Indians from different parts of India,
and enthused us with the idea of nationality. The Government used to look upon it with disfavour.
The Congress has always insisted that the Nation should control revenue and expenditure. It has
always desired self-government after the Canadian model. Whether we can get it or not, whether
we desire it or not, and whether there is not something more desirable, are different questions.
All I have to show is that the Congress gave us a foretaste of Home Rule. To deprive it of the
honour is not proper, and for us to do so would not only be ungrateful, but retard the fulfilment
of our object. To treat the Congress as an institution inimical to our growth as a nation would
disable us from using that body.
The Partition of Bengal
Reader: Considering the matter as you put it, it seems proper to say that the foundation of
Home Rule was laid by the Congress. But you will admit that this cannot be considered a real
awakening. When and how did the real awakening take place?
Editor: The seed is never seen. It works underneath the ground, is itself destroyed, and
the tree which rises above the ground is alone seen. Such is the case with the Congress. Yet,
what you call the real awakening took place after the Partition of Bengal. For this we have to
be thankful to Lord Curzon. At the time of the Partition, the people of Bengal reasoned with
Lord Curzon, but in the pride of power he disregarded all their prayers. He took it for granted
that Indians could only prattle, that they could never take any effective steps. He used insulting
language and in the teeth of all opposition partitioned Bengal. That day may be considered to be
the day of the partition of the British Empire. The shock the British power received through the
Partition has never been equalled by any other act. This does not mean that the other injustices
done to India are less glaring than that done by the Partition. The salt-tax is not a small injustice.
We shall see many such things later on. But the people were ready to resist the Partition. At
that time feeling ran high. Many leading Bengalis were ready to lose their all. They knew their
power; hence the conflagration. It is now well-nigh unquenchable; it is not necessary to quench
it either. The Partition will go, Bengal will be reunited, but the rift in the English barque will
remain; it must daily widen. India awakened is not likely to fall asleep. The demand for the
abrogation of the Partition is tantamount to a demand for Home Rule. Leaders in Bengal know
this, British officials realize it. That is why the Partition still remains. As time passes, the Nation
is being forged. Nations are not formed is a day; the formation requires years.
Reader: What, in your opinion, are the results of the Partition?
Editor: Hitherto we have considered that for redress of grievances we must approach the
throne, and if we get no redress we must sit still, except that we may still petition. After the
Partition, people saw that petitions must be backed up by force, and that they must be capable of
suffering. This new spirit must be considered to be the chief result of the Partition. That spirit
was seen in the outspoken writings in the Press. That which the people said tremblingly and in
secret began to be said and to be written publicly. The Swadeshi movement was inaugurated.
People, young and old, used to run away at the sight of an English face; it now no longer awes
them. They do not fear even a row, or being imprisoned. Some of the best sons of India are at
present in banishment. This is something different from mere petitioning. Thus are the people
moved. The spirit generated in Bengal has spread in the north to the Punjab, and in the south to
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Reader: Do you suggest any other striking result?
Editor: The Partition has not only made a rift in the English ship but has made it in ours
also. Great events always produce great results. Our leaders are divided into two parties: the
Moderates and the Extremists. These may be considered as the slow party and the impatient
party. Some call the Moderates the timid party, and the Extremists the bold party. All interpret
the two words according to their preconceptions. This much is certain ? that there has arisen
an enmity between the two. The one distrusts the other and imputes motives. At the time of
the Surat Congress there was almost a fight. I think that this division is not a good thing for the
country, but I think also that such divisions will not last long. It all depends upon the leaders
how long they will last.
Discontent and unrest
Reader: Then you consider the Partition to be a cause of the awakening? Do you welcome
the unrest which has resulted from it?
Editor: When a man rises from sleep, he twists his limbs and is restless. It takes some time
before he is entirely awakened. Similarly, although the Partition has caused an awakening, the
comatose condition has not yet disappeared. We are still twisting our limbs and are still restless,
and just as the state between sleep and awakening must be considered to be necessary, so may the
present unrest in India be considered a necessary and therefore, a proper state. The knowledge
that there is unrest will, it is highly probable, enable us to outgrow it. Rising from sleep, we do
not continue in a comatose state, but according to our ability, sooner or later, we are completely
restored to our senses. So shall we be free from the present unrest which no one likes.
Reader: What is the other form of unrest?
Editor: Unrest is, in reality, discontent. The latter is only now described as unrest. During
the Congress-period it was labelled discontent. Mr. Hume always said that the spread of discon-
tent in India was necessary. This discontent is a very useful thing. As long as a man is contented
with his present lot, so long is it difficult to persuade him to come out of it. Therefore it is that
every reform must be preceded by discontent. We throw away things we have, only when we
cease to like them. Such discontent has been produced among us after reading the great works
of Indians and Englishmen. Discontent has led to unrest, and the latter has brought about many
deaths, many imprisonments, many banishments. Such a state of things will still continue. It
must be so. All these may be considered good signs but they may also lead to bad results.
What is swaraj?
Reader: I have now learnt what the Congress has done to make India one nation, how the
Partition has caused an awakening, and how discontent and unrest have spread through the land.
I would now like to know your views on Swaraj. I fear that our interpretation is not the same as
Editor: It is quite possible that we do not attach the same meaning to the term. You and I
and all Indians are impatient to obtain Swaraj, but we are certainly not decided as to what it is.
To drive the English out of India is a thought heard from many mouths, but it does not seem that
many have properly considered why it should be so. I must ask you a question. Do you think
that it is necessary to drive away the English, if we get all we want?
Reader: I should ask of them only one thing, that is: “Please leave our country.” If, after
they have complied with this request, their withdrawal from India means that they are still in
India. I should have no objection. Then we would understand that, in their language, the word
“gone” is equivalent to “remained”.
EDITOR: Well then, let us suppose that the English have retired. What will you do then?
Reader: That question cannot be answered at this stage. The state after withdrawal will
depend largely upon the manner of it. If, as you assume, they retire, it seems to me we shall still
keep their constitution and shall carry on the Government. If they simply retire for the asking we
should have an army, etc., ready at hand. We should, therefore, have no difficulty in carrying on
Editor: You may think so; I do not. But I will not discuss the matter just now. I have to
answer your question, and that I can do well by asking you several questions. Why do you want
to drive away the English?
Reader: Because India has become impoverished by their Government. They take away
our money from year to year. The most important posts are reserved for themselves. We are kept
in a state of slavery. They behave insolently towards us and disregard our feelings.
Editor: If they do not take our money away, become gentle, and give us responsible posts,
would you still consider their presence to be harmful?
Reader: That question is useless. It is similar to the question whether there is any harm in
associating with a tiger if he changes his nature. Such a question is sheer waste of time. When a
tiger changes his nature, Englishmen will change theirs. This is not possible, and to believe it to
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
be possible is contrary to human experience.
Editor: Supposing we get Self-Government similar to what the Canadians and the South
Africans have, will it be good enough?
Reader: That question also is useless. We may get it when we have the same powers; we
shall then hoist our own flag. As is Japan, so must India be. We must own our navy, our army,
and we must have our own splendour, and then will India’s voice ring through the world.
Editor: You have drawn the picture well. In effect it means this; that we want English rule
without the Englishman. You want the tiger’s nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would
make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englistan.
This is not the Swaraj that I want.
Reader: I have placed before you my idea of Swaraj as I think it should be. If the education
we have received be of any use, if the works of Spencer, Mill and others be of any importance,
and if the English Parliament be the Mother of Parliaments, I certainly think that we should copy
the English people, and this to such an extent that, just as they do not allow others to obtain a
footing in their country, so we should not allow them or others to obtain it in ours. What they
have done in their own country has not been done in any other country. It is, therefore, proper
for us to import their institutions. But now I want to know your views.
Editor: There is need for patience. My views will develop of themselves in the course of
this discourse. It is as difficult for me to understand the true nature of Swaraj as it seems to you
to be easy. I shall therefore, for the time being, content myself with endeavouring to show that
what you call Swaraj is not truly Swaraj.
The condition of England
Reader: Then from your statement I deduce that the Government of England is not worth
copying by us.
Editor: Your deduction is justified. The condition of England at present is pitiable. I pray
to God that India may never be in that plight. That which you consider to be the Mother of
Parliaments is like a sterile woman and a prostitute. Both these are harsh terms, but exactly
fit the case. That Parliament has not yet, of its own accord, done a single good thing. Hence
I have compared it to a sterile woman. The natural condition of that Parliament is such that,
without outside pressure, it can do nothing. It is like a prostitute because it is under the control
of ministers who change from time to time. Today it is under Mr. Asquith, tomorrow it may be
under Mr. Balfour.
Reader: You have said this sarcastically. The term “sterile woman” is not applicable. The
Parliament, being elected by the people, must work under public pressure. This is its quality.
Editor: You are mistaken. Let us examine it a little more closely. The best men are
supposed to be elected by the people. The members serve without pay and therefore, it must be
assumed, only for the public weal. The electors are considered to be educated and therefore we
should assume that they would not generally make mistakes in their choice. Such a Parliament
should not need the spur of petitions or any other pressure. Its work should be so smooth that its
effects would be more apparent day by day. But, as a matter of fact, it is generally acknowledged
that the members are hypocritical and selfish. Each thinks of his own little interest. It is fear that
is the guiding motive. What is done today may be undone tomorrow. It is not possible to recall
a single instance in which finality can be predicted for its work. When the greatest questions are
debated, its members have been seen to stretch themselves and to doze. Sometimes the members
talk away until the listeners are disgusted. Carlyle has called it the “talking shop of the world”
Members vote for their party without a thought. Their so-called discipline binds them to it. If
any member, by way of exception, gives an independent vote, he is considered a renegade. If
the money and the time wasted by Parliament were entrusted to a few good men, the English
nation would be occupying today a much higher platform. Parliament is simply a costly toy
of the nation. These views are by no means peculiar to me. Some great English thinkers have
expressed them. One of the members of that Parliament recently said that a true Christian could
not become a member of it. Another said that it was a baby. And if it has remained a baby after
an existence of seven hundred years, when will it out grow its babyhood?
Reader: You have set me thinking; you do not expect me to accept at once all you say.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
You give me entirely novel views. I shall have to digest them. Will you now explain the epithet
Editor: That you cannot accept my views at once is only right. If you will read the literature
on this subject, you will have some idea of it. Parliament is without a real master. Under the
Prime Minister, its movement is not steady but it is buffeted about like a prostitute. The Prime
Minister is more concerned about his power than about the welfare of Parliament. His energy
is concentrated upon securing the success of his party. His care is not always that Parliament
shall do right. Prime Ministers are known to have made Parliament do things merely for party
advantage. All this is worth thinking over.
Reader: Then you are really attacking the very men whom we have hitherto considered to
be patriotic and honest?
EDITOR: Yes, that is true; I can have nothing against Prime Ministers, but what I have seen
leads me to think that they cannot be considered really patriotic. If they are to be considered
honest because they do not take what are generally known as bribes, let them be so considered,
but they are open to subtler influences. In order to gain their ends, they certainly bribe people
with honours. I do not hesitate to say that they have neither real honesty nor a living conscience.
Reader: As you express these views about Parliament, I would like to hear you on the
English people, so that I may have your view of their Government.
Editor: To the English voters their newspaper is their Bible. They take their cue from
their newspapers which are often dishonest. The same fact is differently interpreted by different
newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited. One newspaper would
consider a great Englishman to be a paragon of honesty, another would consider him dishonest.
What must be the condition of the people whose newspapers are of this type?
Reader: You shall describe it.
Editor: These people change their views frequently. It is said that they change them every
seven years. These views swing like the pendulum of a clock and are never steadfast. The people
would follow a powerful orator or a man who gives them parties, receptions, etc. As are the
people, so is their Parliament. They have certainly one quality very strongly developed. They
will never allow their country to be lost. If any person were to cast an evil eye on it, they would
pluck out his eyes. But that does not mean that the nation possesses every other virtue or that it
should be imitated. If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined.
Reader: To what do you ascribe this state of England?
Editor: It is not due to any peculiar fault of the English people, but the condition is due
to modern civilization. It is a civilization only in name. Under it the nations of Europe are
becoming degraded and ruined day by day.
Reader: Now you will have to explain what you mean by civilization.
Editor: It is not a question of what I mean. Several English writers refuse to call that
civilization which passes under that name. Many books have been written upon that subject.
Societies have been formed to cure the nation of the evils of civilization. A great English writer
has written a work called Civilization: Its Cause and Cure. Therein he has called it a disease.
Reader: Why do we not know this generally?
Editor: The answer is very simple. We rarely find people arguing against themselves.
Those who are intoxicated by modem civilization are not likely to write against it. Their care
will be to find out facts and arguments in support of it and this they do unconsciously, believing it
to be true. A man whilst he is dreaming, believes in his dream; he is undeceived only when he is
awakened from his sleep. A man labouring under the bane of civilization is like a dreaming man.
What we usually read are the works of defenders of modem civilization, which undoubtedly
claims among its votaries very brilliant and even some very good men. Their writings hypnotize
us. And so, one by one, we are drawn into the vortex.
Reader: This seems to be very plausible. Now will you tell me something of what you
have read and thought of this civilization?
Editor: Let us first consider what state of things is described by the word “civilization”.
Its true test lies in the fact that people living in it make bodily welfare the object of life. We
will take some examples. The people of Europe today live in better-built houses than they did
a hundred years ago. This is considered an emblem of civilization, and this is also a matter to
promote bodily happiness. Formerly, they wore skins, and used spears as their weapons. Now,
they wear long trousers, and, for embelishing their bodies, they wear a variety of clothing, and,
instead of spears, they carry with them revolvers containing five or more chambers. If people of
a certain country, who have hitherto not been in the habit of wearing much clothing, boots, etc.,
adopt European clothing, they are supposed to have become civilized out of savagery. Formerly,
in Europe, people ploughed their lands mainly by manual labour. Now, one man can plough a
vast tract by means of steam engines and can thus amass great wealth. This is called a sign of
civilization. Formerly, only a few men wrote valuable books. Now, anybody writes and prints
anything he likes and poisons people’s minds. Formerly, men travelled in waggons. Now, they
fly through the air in trains at the rate of four hundred and more miles per day. This is considered
the height of civilization. It has been stated that, as men progress, they shall be able to travel
in airship and reach any part of the world in a few hours. Men will not need the use of their
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
hands and feet. They will press a button, and they will have their clothing by their side. They
will press another button, and they will have their newspaper. A third, and a motor-car will be in
waiting for them. They will have a variety of delicately dished up food. Everything will be done
by machinery. Formerly, when people wanted to fight with one another, they measured between
them their bodily strength; now it is possible to take away thousands of lives by one man working
behind a gun from a hill. This is civilization. Formerly, men worked in the open air only as much
as they liked. Now thousands of workmen meet together and for the sake of maintenance work
in factories or mines. Their condition is worse than that of beasts. They are obliged to work,
at the risk of their lives, at most dangerous occupations, for the sake of millionaires. Formerly,
men were made slaves under physical compulsion. Now they are enslaved by temptation of
money and of the luxuries that money can buy. There are now diseases of which people never
dreamt before, and an army of doctors is engaged in finding out their cures, and so hospitals
have increased. This is a test of civilization. Formerly, special messengers were required and
much expense was incurred in order to send letters; today, anyone can abuse his fellow by means
of a letter for one penny. True, at the same cost, one can send one’s thanks also. Formerly,
people had two or three meals consisting of home-made bread and vegetables; now, they require
something to eat every two hours so that they have hardly leisure for anything else. What more
need I say? All this you can ascertain from several authoritative books. There are all true tests
of civilization. And if anyone speaks to the contrary, know that he is ignorant. This civilization
takes note neither of morality nor of religion. Its votaries calmly state that their business is not
to teach religion. Some even consider it to be a superstitious growth. Others put on the cloak
of religion, and prate about morality. But, after twenty years’ experience, I have come to the
conclusion that immorality is often taught in the name of morality. Even a child can understand
that in all I have described above there can be no inducement to morality. Civilization seeks to
increase bodily comforts, and it fails miserably even in doing so.
This civilization is irreligion, and it has taken such a hold on the people in Europe who are in
it appear to be half mad. They lack real physical strength or courage. They keep up their energy
by intoxication. They can hardly be happy in solitude. Women, who should be the queens of
households, wander in the streets or they slave away in factories. For the sake of a pittance, half a
million women in England alone are labouring under trying circumstances in factories or similar
institutions. This awful fact is one of the causes of the daily growing suffragette movement.
This civilization is such that one has only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed. Accord-
ing to the teaching of Mahommed this would be considered a Satanic Civilization. Hinduism
calls it the Black Age. I cannot give you an adequate conception of it. It is eating into the vitals
of the English nation. It must be shunned. Parliaments are really emblems of slavery. If you will
sufficiently think over this, you will entertain the same opinion and cease to blame the English.
They rather deserve our sympathy. They are a shrewd nation and I therefore believe that they
will cast off the evil. They are enterprising and industrious and their mode of thought is not
inherently immoral. Neither are they bad at heart. I therefore respect them. Civilization is not an
incurable disease, but it should never be forgotten that the English people are at present afflicted
Why was India lost?
Reader: You have said much about civilization ? enough to make me ponder over it. I do
not now know what I should adopt and what I should avoid from the nations of Europe, but one
question comes to my lips immediately. If civilization is a disease and if it has attacked England,
why has she been able to take India, and why is she able to retain it?
Editor: Your question is not very difficult to answer, and we shall presently be able to
examine the true nature of Swaraj; for I am aware that I have still to answer that question. I will,
however, take up your previous question. The English have not taken India; we have given it to
them. They are not in India because of their strength, but because we keep them. Let us now see
whether these propositions can be sustained. They came to our country originally for purposes of
trade. Recall the Company Bahadur. Who made it Bahadur? They had not the slightest intention
at the time of establishing a kingdom. Who assisted the Company’s officers? Who was tempted
at the sight of their silver? Who bought their goods? History testifies that we did all this. In order
to become rich all at once we welcomed the Company’s officers with open arms. We assisted
them. If I am in the habit of drinking bhang and a seller thereof sells it to me, am I to blame him
or myself? By blaming the seller shall I be able to avoid the habit? And, if a particular retailer
is driven away will not another take his place? A true servant of India will have to go to the
root of the matter. If an excess of food has caused me indigestion, I shall certainly not avoid it
by blaming water. He is a true physician who probes the cause of disease, and if you pose as a
physician for the disease of India, you will have to find out its true cause.
Reader: You are right. Now I think you will not have to argue much with me to drive your
conclusions home. I am impatient to know your further views. We are now on a most interesting
topic. I shall, therefore, endeavour to follow your thought, and stop you when I am in doubt.
Editor: I am afraid that, in spite of your enthusiasm, as we proceed further, we shall have
differences of opinion. Nevertheless, I shall argue only when you stop me. We have already
seen that the English merchants were able to get a footing in India because we encouraged them.
When our Princes fought among themselves, they sought the assistance of Company Bahadur.
That corporation was versed alike in commerce and war. It was unhampered by questions of
morality. Its object was to increase its commerce and to make money. It accepted our assistance,
and increased the number of its warehouses. To protect the latter it employed an army which
was utilized by us also. Is it not then useless to blame the English for what we did at that
time? The Hindus and the Mahomedans were at daggers drawn. This, too, gave the Company its
opportunity and thus we created the circumstances that gave the Company its control over India.
Hence it is truer to say that we gave India to the English than that India was lost.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Reader: Will you now tell me how they are able to retain India?
Editor: The causes that gave them India enable them to retain it. Some Englishmen state
that they took and they hold India by the sword. Both these statements are wrong. The sword
is entirely useless for holding India. We alone keep them. Napolean is said to have described
the English as a nation of shopkeepers. It is a fitting description. They hold whatever dominions
they have for the sake of their commerce. Their army and their navy are intended to protect it.
When the Transvaal offered no such attractions, the late Mr. Gladstone discovered that it was
not right for the English to hold it. When it became a paying proposition, resistance led to war.
Mr. Chamberlain soon discovered that England enjoyed a suzerainty over the Transvaal. It is
related that someone asked the late President Kruger whether there was gold in the moon. He
replied that it was highly unlikely because, if there were, the English would have annexed it.
Many problems can be solved by remembering that money is their God. Then it follows that we
keep the English in India for our base self-interest. We like their commerce; they please us by
their subtle methods and get what they want from us. To blame them for this is to perpetuate
their power. We further strengthen their hold by quarrelling amongst ourselves. If you accept
the above statements, it is proved that the English entered India for the purposes of trade. They
remain in it for the same purpose and we help them to do so.Their arms and ammunition are
perfectly useless. In this connection I remind you that it is the British flag which is waving in
Japan and not the Japanese. The English have a treaty with Japan for the sake of their commerce,
and you will see that if they can manage it their commerce will greatly expand in that country.
They wish to convert the whole world into a vast market for their goods. That they cannot do so
is true, but the blame will not be theirs. They will leave no stone unturned to reach the goal.
The condition of India
Reader: I now understand why the English hold India. I should like to know your views
about the condition of our country.
Editor: It is a sad condition. In thinking of it my eyes water and my throat gets parched.
I have grave doubts whether I shall be able sufficiently to explain what is in my heart. It is my
deliberate opinion that India is being ground down, not under the English heel, but under that
of modem civilization. It is groaning under the monster’s terrible weight. There is yet time
to escape it, but every day makes it more and more difficult. Religion is dear to me and my
first complaint is that India is becoming irreligious. Here I am not thinking of the Hindu or the
Mahomedan or the Zoroastrian religion but of that religion which underlies all religions. We are
turning away from God.
Reader: How so?
Editor: There is a charge laid against us that we are a lazy people and that Europeans are
industrious and enterprizing. We have accepted the charge and we therefore wish to change our
condition. Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and all other religions teach that we
should remain passive about worldly pursuits and active about godly pursuits, that we should set
a limit to our worldly ambition and that our religious ambition should be illimitable. Our activity
should be directed into the latter channel.
Reader: You seem to be encouraging religious charlatanism. Many a cheat has, by talking
in a similar strain, led the people astray.
Editor: You are bringing an unlawful charge against religion. Humbug there undoubtedly
is about all religions.
Where there is light, there is also shadow. I am prepared to maintain that humbugs in worldly
matters are far worse than the humbugs in religion. The humbug of civilization that I am endeav-
oring to show to you is not to be found in religion.
Reader: How can you say that? In the name of religion Hindus and Mahomedams fought
against one another. For the same cause Christians fought Christians. Thousands of innocent
men have been murdered, thousands have been burned and tortured in its name. Surely, this is
much worse than any civilization.
Editor: I certainly submit that the above hardships are far more bearable than those of
civilization. Everybody understands that the cruelties you have named are not part of religion
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
although they have been practised in its name; therefore there is no aftermath to these cruelties.
They will always happen so long as there are to be found ignorant and credulous people. But
there is no end to the victims destroyed in the fire of civilization. Its deadly effect is that people
come under its scorching flames believing it to be all good. They become utterly irreligious, in
reality, derive little advantage from the world. Civilization is like a mouse gnawing while it is
soothing us. When its full effect is realized, we shall see that religious superstition is harmless
compared to that of modem civilization. I am not pleading for a continuance of religious super-
stitions. We shall certainly fight them tooth and nail, but we can never do so by disregarding
religion. We can only do so by appreciating and conserving the latter.
Reader: Then you will contend that the Pax Britannica is a useless encumbrance?
Editor: You may see peace if you like; I see none.
Reader: You make light of the terror that the Thugs, the Pindaris and the Bhils were to the
Editor: If you give the matter some thought, you will see that the terror was by no means
such a mighty thing. If it had been a very substantial thing, the other people would have died
away before the English advent. Moreover, the present peace is only nominal, for by it we have
become emasculated and cowardly. We are not to assume that the English have changed the
nature of the Pindaris and the Bhils. It is, therefore, better to suffer the Pindari peril than that
someone else should protect us from it and thus render us effeminate. I should prefer to be
ki lled by the arrow of a Bhil than to seek unmanly protection. India without such protection was
an India full of valour. Macaulay betrayed gross ignorance when he libelled Indians as being
practically cowards. They never merited the charge. Cowards living in a country inhabited by
hardy mountaineers and infested by wolves and tigers must surely find an early grave. Have you
ever visited our fields? I assure you that our agriculturists sleep fearlessly on their farms even
today; but the English and you and I would hesitate to sleep where they sleep. Strength lies in
absence of fear, not in the quantity of flesh and muscle we may have on our bodies. Moreover,
I must remind you who desire Home Rule that, after all, the Bhils, the Pindaris, and the Thugs
are our own countrymen. To conquer them is your and my work. So long as we fear our own
brethren, we are unfit to reach the goal.
The condition of India: Railways
Reader: You have deprived me of the consolation I used to have regarding peace in India.
Editor: I have merely given you my opinion on the religious aspect, but when I give you
my views as to the poverty of India, you will perhaps begin to dislike me because what you and
I have hitherto considered beneficial for India no longer appears to me to be so.
Reader: What may that be?
Editor: Railways, lawyers and doctors have impoverished the country so much so that, if
we do not wake up in time, we shall be ruined.
Reader: I do now, indeed, fear that we are not likely to agree at all. You are attacking the
very insitutions which we have hitherto considered to be good.
Editor: It is necessary to exercise patience. The true inwardness of the evils of civilization
you will understand with difficulty. Doctors assure us that a consumptive clings to life even when
he is about to die. Consumption does not produce apparent hurt ? it even produces a seductive
colour about a patient’s face so as to induce the belief that all is well. Civilization is such a
disease and we have to be very wary.
Reader: Very well, then. I shall hear you on the railways.
Editor: It must be manifest to you that, but for the railways, the English could not have
such a hold on India as they have. The railways, too, have spread the bubonic plague. Without
them, the masses could not move from place to place. They are the carriers of plague germs.
Formerly we had natural segregation. Railways have also increased the frequency of famines
because, owing to facility of means of locomotion, people sell out their grain and it is sent to
the dearest markets. People become careless and so the pressure of famine increases. Railways
accentuate the evil nature of man. Bad men fulfil their evil designs with greater rapidity. The
holy places of India have become unholy. Formerly, people went to these places with very great
difficulty. Generally, therefore, only the real devotees visited such places. Nowadays rogues visit
them in order to practise their roguery.
Reader: You have given a one-sided account. Good men can visit these places as well as
bad men. Why do they not take the fullest advantage of the railways?
Editor: Good travels at a snail’s pace ? it can, therefore, have little to do with the railways.
Those who want to do good are not selfish, they are not in a hurry, they know that to impregnate
people with good requires a long time. But evil has wings. To build a house takes time. Its
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destruction takes none. So the railways can become a distributing agency for the evil one only.
It may be a debatable matter whether railways spread famines, but it is beyond dispute that they
Reader: Be that as it may, all the disadvantages of railways are more than counterbalanced
by the fact that it is due to them that we see in India the new spirit of nationalism.
Editor: I hold this to be a mistake. The English have taught us that we were not one
nation before and that it will require centuries before we become one nation. This is without
foundation. We were one nation before they came to India. One thought inspired us. Our mode
of life was the same. It was because we were one nation that they were able to establish one
kingdom. Subsequently they divided us.
Reader: This requires an explanation.
Editor: I do not wish to suggest that because we were one nation we had no differences,
but it is submitted that our leading men travelled thoughout India either or foot or in bullock-
carts. They learned one another’s languages and there was no aloofness between them. What
do you think could have been the intention of those farseeing ancestors of ours who established
Setubandha (Rameshwar) in the South, Jagannath in the East and Hardwar in the North as places
of pilgrimage? You will admit they were no fools. They knew that worship of God could have
been performed just as well at home. They taught us that those whose hearts were aglow with
righteousness had the Ganges in their own homes. But they saw that India was one undivided
land so made by nature. They, therefore, argued that it must be one nation. Arguing thus, they
established holy places in various parts of India, and fired the people with an idea of nationality in
a manner unknown in other parts of the world. And we Indians are one as no two Englishmen are.
Only you and I and others who consider ourselves civilized and superior persons imagine that
we are many nations. It was after the advent of railways that we began to believe in distinctions,
and you are at liberty now to say that it is through the railways that we are beginning to abolish
distinctions. An opium-eater may argue the advantage of opium-eating from the fact that he
began to understand the evil of the opium habit after having eaten it. I would ask you to consider
well what I had said on the railways.
Reader: I will gladly do so but one question occurs to me even now. You have described
to me the India of the pre-Mahomedan period, but now we have Mahomedans, Parsis and Chris-
tians. How can they be one nation? Hindus and Mahomedans are old enemies. Our very proverbs
prove it. Mahomedans turn to the West for worship, whilst Hindus turn to the East. The former
look down on the Hindus as idolaters. The Hindus worship the cow, the Mahomedans kill her.
The Hindus believe in the doctrine of non-killing, the Mahomedans do not. We thus meet with
differences at every step. How can India be one nation?
The condition of India: The Hindus
and the Mahomedans
Editor: Your last question is a serious one and yet, on careful consideration, it will be
found to be easy of solution. The question arises because of the presence of the railways, of the
lawyers and of the doctors. We shall presently examine the last two. We have already considered
the railways. I should, however, like to add that man is so made by nature as to require him
to restrict his movements as far as his hands and feet will take him. If we did not rush about
from place to place by means of railways and such other maddening conveniences, much of the
confusion that arises would be obviated. Our difficulties are of our own creation. God set a limit
to a man’s locomotive ambition in the construction of his body. Man immediately proceeded to
discover means of overriding the limit. God gifted man with intellect that he might know his
Maker. Man abused it so that he might forget his Maker. I am so constructed that I can only
serve my immediate neighbours, but in my conceit I pretend to have discovered that I must with
my body serve every individual in the Universe. In thus attempting the impossible, man comes
in contact with different natures, different religions, and is utterly confounded. According to this
reasoning, it must be apparent to you that railways are a most dangerous institution. Owing to
them, man has gone further away from his Maker.
Reader: But I am impatient to hear your answer to my question. Has the introduction of
Mahomedanism not unmade the nation?
Editor: India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different religions
live in it. The introduction of foreigners does not necessarily destroy the nation; they merge in
it. A country is one nation only when such a condition obtains in it. That country must have a
faculty for assimilation. India has ever been such a country. In reality there are as many religions
as there are individuals; but those who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere
with one another’s religion. If they do, they are not fit to be considered a nation. If the Hindus
believe that India should be peopled only by Hindus, they are living in dreamland. The Hindus,
the Mahomedans, the Parsis and the Christians who have made India their country are fellow-
countrymen, and they will have to live in unity, if only for their own interest. In no part of the
world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.
Reader: But what about the inborn enmity between Hindus and Mahomedans?
Editor: That phrase has been invented by our mutual enemy. When the Hindus and Ma-
homedans fought against one another, they certainly spoke in that strain. They have long since
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
ceased to fight. How, then, can there be any inborn enmity? Pray remember this too, that we did
not cease to fight only after British occupation. The Hindus flourished under Moslem sovereigns
and Moslems under the Hindu. Each party recognized that mutual fighting was suicidal, and that
neither party would abandon its religion by force of arms. Both parties, therefore, decided to live
in peace. With the English advent quarrels recommenced.
The proverbs you have quoted were coined when both were fighting ; to quote them now is
obviously harmful. Should we not remember that many Hindus and Mahomedans own the same
ancestors and the same blood runs through their veins? Do people become enemies because
they change their religion? Is the God of the Mahomedan different from the God of the Hindu?
Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take
different roads so long as we reach the same goal? Wherein is the cause for quarrelling?
Moreover, there are deadly proverbs as between the followers of Siva and those of Vishnu,
yet nobody suggests that these two do not belong to the same nation. It is said that the Vedic
religion is different from Jainism, but the followers of the respective faiths are not different
nations. The fact is that we have become enslaved and, therefore, quarrel and like to have our
quarrels decided by a third party. There are Hindu iconoclasts as there are Mahomedan. The
more we advance in true knowledge, the better we shall understand that we need not be at war
with those whose religion we may not follow.
Reader: Now I would like to know your views about cow-protection.
Editor: I myself respect the cow, that is, I look upon her with affectionate reverence. The
cow is the protector of India because, being an agricultural country, she is dependent on the cow.
The cow is a most useful animal in hundreds of ways. Our Mahomedan brethren will admit this.
But, just as I respect the cow, so do I respect my fellowmen. A man is just as useful as a cow
no matter whether he be a Mahomedan or a Hindu. Am I, then, to fight with or kill a Mahomedan
in order to save a cow? In doing so, I would become an enemy of the Mahomedan as well as of
the cow. Therefore, the only method I know of protecting the cow is that I should approach my
Mahomedan brother and urge him for the sake of the country to join me in protecting her. If he
would not listen to me I should let the cow go for the simple reason that the matter is beyond my
ability. If I were overfull of pity for the cow, I should sacrifice my life to save her but not take
my brother’s. This, I hold, is the law of our religion.
When men become obstinate, it is a difficult thing. If I pull one way, my Moslem brother
will pull another. If I put on a superior air, he will return the compliment. If I bow to him gently,
he will do it much more so; and if he does not, I shall not be considered to have done wrong in
When the Hindus became insistent, the killing of cows increased. In my opinion, cow-
protection societies may be considered cow-killing societies. It is a disgrace to us that we should
need such societies. When we forgot how to protect cows. I suppose we needed such societies.
What am I to do when a blood-brother is on the point of killing a cow? Am I to kill him,
or to fall down at his feet and implore him? If you admit that I should adopt the latter course. I
must do the same to my Moslem brother.
Who protects the cow from destruction by Hindus when they cruelly ill-treat her? Whoever
reasons with the Hindus when they mercilessly belabour the progeny of the cow with their sticks?
But this has not prevented us from remaining one nation.
Lastly, if it is be true that the Hindus believe in the doctrine of non-killing and the Mahome-
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
dans do not, what, pray, is the duty of the former? It is not written that a follower of the religion
of Ahimsa (non-killing) may kill a fellow-man. For him the way is straight. In order to save one
being, he may not kill another. He can only plead ? therein lies his sole duty.
But does every Hindu believe in Ahimsa? Going to the root of the matter, not one man really
practises such a religion because we do destroy life. We are said to follow that religion because
we want to obtain freedom from liability to kill any kind of life. Generally speaking, we may
observe that many Hindus partake of meat and are not, therefore, followers of Ahimsa. It is,
therefore, preposterous to suggest that the two cannot live together amicably because the Hindus
believe in Ahimsa and the Mahomedans do not.
These thoughts are put into our minds by selfish and false religious teachers. The English
put the finishing touch. They have habit of writing history; they pretend to study the manners and
customs of all peoples. God has given us a limited mental capacity, but they usurp the function
of the Godhead and indulge in novel experiments. They write about their own researches in most
laudatory terms and hypnotize us into believing them. We in our ignorance then fall at their feet.
Those who do not wish to misunderstand thing may read up the Koran, and they will find
therein hundreds of passages acceptable to the Hindus; and the Bhagavadgita contains passages
to which not a Mahomedan can take exception. Am I to dislike a Mahomedan because there are
passages in the Koran I do not understand or like? It takes two to make a quarrel. If I do not
want to quarrel with a Mahomedan, the latter will be powerless to foist a quarrel on me; and,
similarly, I should be powerless if a Mahomedan refuses his assistance to quarrel with me. An
arm striking the air will become disjointed. If everyone will try to understand the core of his
own religion and adhere to it, and will not allow false teachers to dictate to him, there will be no
room left for quarrelling.
Reader: But will the English ever allow the two bodies to join hands?
Editor: This question arises out of your timidity. It betrays our shallowness. If two brothers
want to live in peace, is it possible for a third party to separate them? If they were to listen to evil
counsels we would consider them to be foolish. Similarly, we Hindus and Mahomedans would
have to blame our folly rather than the English, if we allowed them to put us asunder. A clay
pot would break through impact, if not with one stone, then with another. The way to save the
pot is not to keep it away from the danger point but to bake it so that no stone would break it.
We have then to make our hearts of perfectly baked clay. Then we shall be steeled against all
danger. This can be easily done by the Hindus. They are superior in numbers ; they pretend that
they are more educated; they are, therefore, better able to shield themselves from attack on their
amicable relations with the Mahomedans.
There is mutual distrust between the two communities. The Mahomedans, therefore, ask
for certain concessions from Lord Morley. Why should the Hindus oppose this? If the Hindus
desisted, the English would notice it, the Mahomedans would gradually begin to trust the Hindus,
and brotherliness would be the outcome. We should be ashamed to take our quarrels to the
English. Everyone can find out for himself that the Hindus can lose nothing by desisting. That
man who has inspired confidence in another has never lost anything in this world.
I do not suggest that the Hindus and the Mahomedans will never fight. Two brothers living
together often do so. We shall sometimes have our heads broken. Such a thing ought not to be
necessary, but all men are not equitable. When people are in a rage, they do many foolish things.
These we have to put up with. But when we do quarrel, we certainly do not want to engage
counsel and resort to English or any law-courts. Two men fight ; both have their heads broken, or
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
one only. How shall a third party distribute justice amongst them? Those who fight may expect
to be injured.
The condition of India: Lawyers
Reader: You tell me that when two men quarrel they should not go to a law-court. This is
Editor: Whether you call it astonishing or not, it is the truth. And your question introduces
us to the lawyers and the doctors. My firm opinion is that the lawyers have enslaved India, have
accentuated Hindu-Mahomedan dissensions and have confirmed English authority.
Reader: It is easy enough to bring these charges, but it will be dificult for you to prove
them. But for the lawyers, who would have shown us the road to independence? Who would
have protected the door? Who would have secured justice? For instance, the late Manomohan
Ghose defended many a poor man free of charge. The Congress, which you have praised so
much is dependent for its existence and activity upon the work of the lawyers. To denounce such
an estimable class of men is to spell injustice, and you are abusing the liberty of the press by
Editor: At one time I used to think exactly like you. I have no desire to convince you that
they have never done a single good thing. I honour Mr. Ghose’s memory. It is quite true that he
helped the poor. That the Congress owes the lawyers something is believable. Lawyers are also
men, and there is something good in every man. Whenever instances of lawyers having done
good can be brought forward, it will be found that the good is due to them as men rather than as
lawyers. All I am concerned with is to show you that the profession teaches immorality ; it is
exposed to temptation from which few are saved.
The Hindus and the Mahomedans have quarelled. An ordinary man will ask them to forget
all about it ; he will tell them that both must be more or less at fault, and will advise them no
longer to quarrel. But they go to lawyers. The latter’s duty is to side with their clients and to find
out ways and arguments in favour of the clients to which they (the clients) are often strangers.
If they do not do so they will be considered to have degraded their profession. The lawyers,
therefore, will, as a rule, advance quarrels instead of repressing them. Moreover, men take up
that profession, not in order to help others out of their miseries, but to enrich themselves. It is one
of the avenues of becoming wealthy and their interest exists in multiplying disputes. It is within
my knowledge that they are glad when men have disputes. Petty pleaders actually manufacture
them. Their toots, like so many leeches, suck the blood of the poor people. Lawyers are men who
have little to do. Lazy people, in order to indulge in luxuries, take up such professions. This is a
true statement. Any other argument is a men pretension. It is the lawyers who have discovered
that theirs is an honourable profession. They frame laws as they frame their own praises. They
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decide what fees they will charge and they put on so much side that poor people almost consider
them to be heaven-bom.
Why do they want more fees than common labourers? Why are their requirements greater?
In what way are they more profitable to the country than the labourers? Are those who do good
entitled to greater payment? And, if they have done anything for the country for the sake of
money, how shall it be counted as good?
Those who know anything of the Hindu-Mahomedan quarrels know that they have been
often due to the intervention of lawyers. Some families have been ruined through them; they
have made brothers enemies. Principalities, having come under the lawyers’ power, have become
loaded with debt. Many have been robbed of their all. Such instances can be multiplied.
But the greatest injury they have done to the country is that they have tightened the English
grip. Do you think that it would be possible for the English to carry on their Government without
law courts? It is wrong to consider that courts are established for the benefit of the people. Those
who want to perpetuate their power do so through the courts. If people were to settle their own
quarrels, a third party would not be able to exercise any authority over them. Truly, men were
less unmanly when they settled their disputes either by fighting or by asking their relatives to
decide for them. They became more unmanly and cowardly when they resorted to the courts of
law. It was certainly a sign of savagery when they settled their disputes by fighting. Is it any the
less so, if I ask a third party to decide between you and me? Surely, the decision of a third party
is not always right. The parties alone know who is right. We, in our simplicity and ignorance,
imagine that a stranger, by taking our money, gives us justice.
The chief thing, however, to be remembered is that without lawyers courts could not have
been established or conducted and without the latter the English could not rule.
Supposing, that there were only English judges, English pleaders and English police, they
could only rule over the English. The English could not do without Indian judges and Indian
pleaders. How the pleaders were made in the first instance and how they were favoured you
should understand well. Then you will have the same abhorrence for the profession that I have.
If pleaders were to abandon their profession, and consider it just as degrading as prostitution,
English rule would break up in a day. They have been instrumental in having the charge laid
against us that we love quarrels and courts as fish love water. What I have said with reference to
the pleaders necessarily applies to the judges; they are first cousins; and the one gives strength
to the other.
The condition of India: Doctors
Reader: I now understand the lawyers; the good they may have done is accidental. I feel
that profession is certainly hateful. You, however, drag in the doctors also, how is that?
Editor: The views I submit to you are those I have adopted. They are not original. Western
writers have used stronger terms regarding both lawyers and doctors. One writer has linked the
whole modem system to the Upas tree. Its branches are represented by parasitical professions,
including those of law and medicine, and over the trunk has been raised the axe of true religion.
Immorality is the root of the tree. So you will see that the views do not come right out of my
mind but represent the combined experiences of many. I was at one time a great lover of the
medical profession. It was my intention to become a doctor for the sake of the country. I no
longer hold that opinion. I now understand why the medicine men (the vaids) among us have not
occupied a very honourable status.
The English have certainly effectively used the medical profession for holding us. English
physicians are known to have used their profession with several Asiatic potentates for political
Doctors have almost unhinged us. Sometimes I think that quacks are better than highly
qualified doctors. Let us consider : the business of a doctor is to take care of the body, or,
properly speaking, not even that. Their business is really to rid the body of diseases that may
afflict it. How do these diseases arise? Surely by our negligence or indulgence. I overeat, I
have indigestion. I go to a doctor, he gives me medicine, I am cured. I overeat again, I take his
pills again. Had I not taken the pills in the first instance, I would have suffered the punishments
deserved by me and I would not have overeaten again. The doctor intervened and helped me to
indulge myself. My body thereby certainly felt more at ease; but my mind became weakened. A
continuance of a course of medicine must, therefore, result in loss of control over the mind.
I have indulged in vice, I contract a disease, a doctor cures me, the odds are that I shall
repeat the vice. Had the doctor not intervened, nature would have done its work, and I would
have acquired mastrey over myself, would have been freed from vice and would have become
Hospitals are institutions for propagating sin. Men take less care of their bodies and im-
morality increases. European doctors are the worst of all. For the sake of a mistaken care of
the human body, they kill annually thousands of animals. They practise vivisection. No religion
sanctions this. All say that it is not necessary to take so many lives for the sake of our bodies.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
These doctors violate our religious instinct. Most of their medical preparations contain either
animal fat or spirituous liquors ; both of these are tabooed by Hindus and Mahomedans. We may
pretend to be civilized, call religious prohibitions a superstition and wantonly indulge in what
we like. The fact remains that the doctors induce us to indulge, and the result is that we have
become deprived of self-control and have become effeminate. In these cirsumstances, we are
unfit to serve the country. To study European medicine is to deepen our slavery.
It is worth considering why we take up the profession of medicine. It is certainly not taken
up for the purpose of serving humanity. We become doctors so that we may obtain honours and
riches. I have endeavoured to show that there is no real service of humanity in the profession, and
that it is injurious to mankind. Doctors make a show of their knowledge, and charge exorbitant
fees. Their preparations, which are intrinsically worth a few pence, cost shillings. The populace,
in its credulity and in the hope of ridding itself of some disease, allows itself to be cheated. Are
not quacks then whom we know, better than the doctors who put on an air of humaneness?
What is true civilization?
Reader: You have denounced railways, lawyers and doctors. I can see that you will discard
all machinery. What, then, is civilization?
Editor: The answer to that question is not difficult. I believe that the civilization India
evolved is not to be beaten in the world. Nothing can equal the seeds sown by our ancestors,
Rome went, Greece shared the same fate; the might of the Pharaohs was broken; Japan has
become Westernized; of China nothing can be said; but India is still, somehow or other, sound at
the foundation. The people of Europe learn their lessons from the writings of the men of Greece
or Rome, which exist no longer in their former glory. In trying to leam from them, the Europeans
imagine that they will avoid the mistakes of Greece and Rome. Such is their pitiable condition.
In the midst of all this India remains immovable and that is her glory. It is a charge against India
that her people are so uncivilized, ignorant and stolid, that it is not possible to induce them to
adopt any changes. It is a charge really against our merit. What we have tested and found true
on the anvil of experience, we dare not change. Many thrust their advice upon India, and she
remains steady. This is her beauty: it is the sheet-anchor of our hope.
Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. Performance of
duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. To observe morality is to attain mastery
over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves. The Gujarati equivalent for
civilization means “good conduct”.
If this definition be correct, then India, as so many writers have shown, has nothing to learn
from anybody else, and this is as it should be. We notice that the mind is a restless bird; the
more it gets the more it wants, and still remains unsatisfied. The more we indulge our passions
the more unbridled they become. Our ancestors, therefore set a limit to our indulgences. They
saw that happiness was largely a mental condition. A man is not necessarily happy because he is
rich, or unhappy because he is poor. The rich are often seen to be unhappy, the poor to be happy.
Millions will always remain poor. Observing all this, our ancestors dissuaded us from luxuries
and pleasures. We have managed with the same kind of plough as existed thousands of years
ago. We have retained the same kind of cottages that we had in former times and our indigenous
education remains the same as before. We have had no system of life-corroding competition.
Each followed his own occupation or trade and charged a regulation wage. It was not that we did
not know how to invent machinery, but our forefathers knew that, if we set our hearts after such
things, we would become slaves and lose our moral fibre. They, therefore, after due deliberation
decided that we should only do what we could with our hands and feet. They saw that our real
happiness and health consisted in a proper use of our hands and feet. They further reasoned that
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
large cities were a snare and a useless encumbrance and that people would not be happy in them,
that there would be gangs of thieves and robbers, prostitution and vice flourishing in them and
that poor men would be robbed by rich men. They were, therefore, satisfied with small villages.
They saw that kings and their swords were inferior to the sword of ethics, and they, therefore, and
the sovereigns of the earth to be inferior to the Rishis and the Fakirs. A nation with a constitution
like this is fitter to teach others than to leam from. This nation had courts, lawyers and doctors,
but they were all within bounds. Everybody knew that these professions were not particularly
superior; moreover, these vakils and vaids did not rob people; they were considered people’s
dependants, not their masters. Justice was tolerably fair. The ordinary rule was to avoid courts.
There were no touts to lure people into them. This evil, too, was noticeable only in and around
capitals. The common people lived independently and followed their agricultural occupation.
They enjoyed true Home Rule.
And where this cursed modem civilization has not reached, India remains as it was before.
The inhabitants of that part of India will very properly laugh at your newfangled notions. The
English do not rule over them, nor will you ever rule over them. Those in whose name we speak
we do not know, nor do they know us. I would certainly advise you and those like you who love
the motherland to go into the interior that has yet been not polluted by the railways and to live
there for six months; you might then be patriotic and speak of Home Rule.
Now you see what I consider to be real civilization. Those who want to change conditions
such as I have described are enemies of the country and are sinners.
Reader: It would be all right if India were exactly as you have described it, but it is
also India where there are hundreds of child widows, where two year old babies are married,
where twelve year old girls are mothers and housewives, where women practise polyandry, where
the practice of Niyoga obtains, where, in the name of religion, girls dedicate themselves to
prostitution, and in the name of religion sheep and goats are killed. Do you consider these also
symbols of the civilization that you have described?
Editor: You make a mistake. The defects that you have shown are defects. Nobody mis-
takes them for ancient civilization. They remain in spite of it. Attempts have always been made
and will be made to remove them. We may utilize the new spirit that is born in us for purging
ourselves of these evils. But what I have described to you as emblems of modem civilization
are accepted as such by its votaries. The Indian civilization, as described by me, has been so
described by its votaries. In no part of the world, and under no civilization, have all men attained
perfection. The tendency of the Indian civilization is to elevate the moral being, that of the West-
ern civilization is to propagate immorality. The latter is godless, the former is based on a belief
in God. So understanding and so believing, it behoves every lover of India to cling to the old
Indian civilization even as a child clings to the mother’s breast.
How can India become free?
Reader: I appreciate your views about civilization. I will have to think over them. I cannot
take them in all at once. What, then, holding the views you do, would you suggest for freeing
Editor: I do not expect my views to be accepted all of a sudden. My duty is to place them
before readers like yourself. Time can be trusted to do the rest. We have already examined the
conditions for freeing India, but we have done so indirectly; we will now do so directly. It is
a world-known maxim that the removal of the cause of a disease results in the removal of the
disease itself. Similarly if the cause of India’s slavery be removed, India can become free.
Reader: If Indian civilization is, as you say, the best of all, how do you account for India’s
Editor: This civilization is unquestionably the best, but it is to be observed that all civi-
lizations have been on their trial. That civilization which is permanent outlives it. Because the
sons of India were found wanting, its civilization has been placed in jeopardy. But its strength is
to be seen in its ability to survive the shock. Moreover, the whole of India is not touched. Those
alone who have been affected by Western civilization have become enslaved. We measure the
universe by our own miserable foot-rule. When we are slaves, we think that the whole universe
is enslaved. Because we are in an abject condition, we think that the whole of India is in that
condition. As a matter of fact, it is not so, yet it is as well to impute our slavery to the whole of
India. But if we bear in mind the above fact, we can see that if we become free, India is free.
And in this thought you have a definition of Swaraj. It is Swaraj when we learn to rule ourselves.
It is, therefore, in the palm of our hands. Do not consider this Swaraj to be like a dream. There
is no idea of sitting still. The Swaraj that I wish to picture is such that, after we have once re-
alized it, we shall endeavour to the end of our life-time to persuade others to do likewise. But
such Swaraj has to be experienced, by each one for himself. One drowning man will never save
another. Slaves ourselves, it would be a mere pretension to think of freeing others. Now you will
have seen that it is not necessary for us to have as our goal the expulsion of the English. If the
English become Indianized, we can accommodate them. If they wish to remain in India along
with their civilization, there is no room for them. It lies with us to bring about such a state of
Reader: It is impossible that Englishmen should ever become Indianized.
Editor: To say that is equivalent to saying that the English have no humanity in them. And
it is really beside the point whether they become so or not. If we keep our own house in order,
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only those who are fit to live in it will remain. Others will leave of their own accord. Such things
occur within the experience of all of us.
Reader: But it has not occurred in history.
Editor: To believe that what has not occurred in history will not occur at all is to argue
disbelief in the dignity of man. At any rate, it behoves us to try what appeals to our reason.
All countries are not similarly conditioned. The condition of India is unique. Its strength is
immeasurable. We need not, therefore, refer to the history of other countries. I have drawn
attention to the fact, that when other civilizations have succumbed, the Indian has survived many
Reader: I cannot follow this. There seems little doubt that we shall have to expel the
English by force of arms. So long as they are in the country we cannot rest. One of our poets
says that slaves cannot even dream of happiness. We are day by day becoming weakened owing
to the presence of the English. Our greatness is gone; our people look like terrified men. The
English are in the country like a blight which we must remove by every means.
Editor: In your excitement, you have forgotten all we have been considering. We brought
the English, and we keep them. Why do you forget that our adoption of their civilization makes
their presence in India at all possible? Your hatred against them ought to be transferred to their
civilization. But let us assume that we have to drive away the English by fighting, how is that to
Reader: In the same way as Italy did it. What was possible for Mazzini and Garibaldi is
possible for us. You cannot deny that they were very great men.
Italy and India
Editor: It is well that you have instanced Italy. Mazzini was a great and good man;
Garibaldi was a great warrior. Both are adorable; from their lives we can learn much. But
the condition of Italy was different from that of India. In the first instance, the difference be-
tween Mazzini and Garibaldi is worth noting. Mazzini’s ambition was not and has not yet been
realized regarding Italy. Mazzini has shown in his writings on the duty of man that every man
must leam how to rule himself. This has not happened in Italy. Garibaldi did not hold this
view of Mazzini’s. Garibaldi gave, and every Italian took arms. Italy and Austria had the same
civilization; they were cousins in this respect. It was a matter of tit for tat. Garibaldi simply
wanted Italy to be free from the Austrian yoke. The machinations of Minister Cavour disgrace
that portion of the history of Italy. And what has been the result? If you believe that because
Italians rule Italy the Italian nation is happy, you are grouping in darkness. Mazzini has shown
conclusively that Italy did not become free. Victor Emanuel gave one meaning to the expression;
Mazzini gave another. According to Emanuel, Cavour and even Garibaldi, Italy meant the King
of Italy and his henchmen. According to Mazzini, it meant the whole of the Italian people, that
is, its agriculturists. Emanuel was only its servant. The Italy of Mazzini still remains in a state
of slavery. At the time of the so-called national war, it was a game of chess between two rival
kings with the people of Italy as pawns. The working classes in that land are still unhappy. They,
therefore, indulge in assassination, rise in revolt, and rebellion on their part is always expected.
What substantial gain did Italy obtain after the withdrawal of the Austrian troops? The gain was
only nominal. The reforms for the sake of which the war was supposed to have been undertaken
have not yet been granted. The condition of the people in general still remains the same. I am
sure you do not wish to reproduce such a condition in India. I believe that you want the millions
of India to be happy, not that you want the reins of Government in your hands. If that be so,
we have to consider only one thing : how can the millions obtain self-rule? You will admit that
people under several Indian princes are being ground down. The latter mercilessly crush them.
Their tyranny is greater than that of the English, and if you want such tyranny in India, then
we shall never agree. My patriotism does not teach me that I am to allow people to be crushed
under the heel of Indian princes if only the English retire. If I have the power, I should resist the
tyranny of Indian princes just as much as that of the English. By patriotism I mean the welfare
of the whole people, and if I could secure it at the hands of the English, I should bow down my
head to them. If any Englishman dedicated his life to securing the freedom of India, resisting
tyranny and serving the land, I should welcome that Englishman as an Indian.
Again, India can fight like Italy only when she has arms. You have not considered this
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problem at all. The English are splendidly armed; that does not frighten me, but it is clear that,
to pit ourselves against them in arms, thousands of Indians must be armed. If such a thing be
possible, how many years will it take? Moreover, to arm India on a large scale is to Europeanize
it. Then her condition will be just as pitiable as that of Europe. This means, in short, that India
must accept European civilization, and if that is what we want, the best thing is that we have
among us those who are so well trained in that civilization. We will then fight for a few rights,
will get what we can and so pass our days. But the fact is that the Indian nation will not adopt
arms, and it is well that it does not.
Reader: You are over-stating the facts. All need not be armed. At first, we shall assassinate
a few Englishmen and strike terror; then, a few men who will have been armed will fight openly.
We may have to lose a quarter of a million men, more or less, but we shall regain our land. We
shall undertake guerilla warfare, and defeat the English.
Editor: That is to say, you want to make the holy land of India unholy. Do you not tremble
to think of freeing India by assassination? What we need to do is to sacrifice ourselves. It is a
cowardly thought, that of killing others. Whom do you suppose to free by assassination? The
millions of India do not desire it. Those who are intoxicated by the wretched modem civilization
think these things. Those who will rise to power by murder will certainly not make the nation
happy. Those who believe that India has gained by Dhingra’s act and other similar acts in India
make a serious mistake. Dhingra was a patriot, but his love was blind. He gave his body in a
wrong way; its ultimate result can only be mischievous.
Reader: But you will admit that the English have been frightened by these murders, and
that Lord Morley’s reforms are due to fear.
EDITOR: The English are both a timid and a brave nation. England is, I believe, easily
influenced by the use of gun-power. It is possible that Lord Morley has granted the reforms
through fear, but what is granted under fear can be retained only so long as the fear lasts.
Reader: This is a new doctrine, that what is gained through fear is retained only while the
fear lasts. Surely, what is given will not be withdrawn?
Editor: Not so. The proclamation of 1857 was given at the end of a revolt, and for the
purpose of preserving peace. When peace was secured and people became simple-minded its
full effect was toned down. If I cease stealing for fear of punishment, I would recommence the
operation as soon as the fear is withdrawn from me. This is almost a universal experience. We
have assumed that we can get men to do things by force and, therefore, we use force.
Reader: Will you not admit that you are arguing against yourself? You know that what
the English obtained in their own country they obtained by using brute force. I know you have
argued that what they have obtained is useless, but that does not affect my argument. They
wanted useless things and they got them. My point is that their desire was fulfilled. What does
it matter what means they adopted? Why should we not obtain our goal, which is good, by any
means whatsoever, even by using violence? Shall I think of the means when I have to deal with a
thief in the house? My duty is to drive him out anyhow. You seem to admit that we have received
nothing, and that we shall receive nothing by petitioning. Why, then, may we do not so by using
brute force? And, to retain what we may receive we shall keep up the fear by using the same
force to the extent that it may be necessary. You will not find fault with a continuance of force
to prevent a child from thrusting its foot into fire. Somehow or other we have to gain our end.
Editor: Your reasoning is plausible. It has deluded many. I have used similar arguments
before now. But I think I know better now, and I shall endeavour to undeceive you. Let us
first take the argument that we are justified in gaining our end by using brute force because the
English gained theirs by using similar means. It is perfectly true that they used brute force and
that it is possible for us to do likewise, but by using similar means we can get only the same thing
that they got. You will admit that we do not want that. Your belief that there is no connection
between the means and the end is a great mistake. Through that mistake even men who have been
considered religious have committed grievous crimes. Your reasoning is the same as saying that
we can get a rose through planting a noxious weed. If I want to cross the ocean, I can do so only
by means of a vessel; if I were to use a cart for that purpose, both the cart and I would soon find
the bottom. “As is the God, so is the votary”, is a maxim worth considering. Its meaning has been
distorted and men have gone astray. The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and
there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between
the seed and the tree. I am not likely to obtain the result flowing from the worship of God by
laying myself prostrate before Satan. If, therefore, anyone were to say : “I want to worship God;
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it does not matter that I do so by means of Satan,” it would be set down as ignorant folly. We
reap exactly as we sow. The English in 1833 obtained greater voting power by violence. Did
they by using brute force better appreciate their duty? They wanted the right of voting, which
they obtained by using physical force. But real rights are a result of performance of duty; these
rights they have not obtained. We, therefore, have before us in English the force of everybody
wanting and insisting on his rights, nobody thinking of his duty. And, where everybody wants
rights, who shall give them to whom? I do not wish to imply that they do no duties. They don’t
perform the duties corresponding to those rights; and as they do not perform that particular duty,
namely, acquire fitness, their rights have proved a burden to them. In other words, what they
have obtained is an exact result of the means they adapted. They used the means corresponding
to the end. If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to
buy your watch, I shall have to pay you for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and,
according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation.
Thus we see three different results from three different means. Will you still say that means do
Now we shall take the example given by you of the thief to be driven out. I do not agree
with you that the thief may be driven out by any means. If it is my father who has come to steal
I shall use one kind of means. If it is an acquaintance I shall use another; and in the case of a
perfect stranger I shall use a third. If it is a white man, you will perhaps say you will use means
different from those you will adopt with an Indian thief. If it is a weakling, the means will be
different from those to be adopted for dealing with an equal in physical strength; and if the thief
is armed from top to toe, I shall simply remain quiet. Thus we have a variety of means between
the father and the armed man. Again, I fancy that I should pretend to be sleeping whether the
thief was my father or that strong armed man. The reason for this is that my father would also
be armed and I should succumb to the strength possessed by either and allow my things to be
stolen. The strength of my father would make me weep with pity; the strength of the armed man
would rouse in me anger and we should become enemies. Such is the curious situation. From
these examples we may not be able to agree as to the means to be adopted in each case. I myself
seem clearly to see what should be done in all these cases, but the remedy may frighten you. I
therefore hesitate to place it before you. For the time being I will leave you to guess it, and if
you cannot, it is clear you will have to adopt different means in each case. You will also have
seen that any means will not avail to drive away the thief. You will have to adopt means to fit
each case. Hence it follows that your duty is not to drive away the thief by any means you like.
Let us proceed a little further. That well-armed man has stolen your property; you have
harboured the thought of his act; you are filled with anger; you argue that you want to punish
that rogue, not for your own sake, but for the good of your neighbours; you have collected a
number of armed men, you want to take his house by assault; he is duly informed of it, he runs
away; he too is incensed. He collects his brother robbers, and sends you a defiant message
that he will commit robbery in broad daylight. You are strong, you do not fear him, you are
prepared to receive him. Meanwhile the robber pesters your neighbours. They complain before
you. You reply that you are doing all for their sake, you do not mind that your own goods
have been stolen. Your neighbours reply that the robber never pestered them before, and that he
commenced his depredations only after you declared hostilities against him. You are between
Scylla and Charybdis. You are full of pity for the poor men. What they say is true. What are
you to do? You will be disgraced if you now leave the robber alone. You therefore, tell the poor
men: “Never mind. Come, my wealth is yours, I will give you arms, I will teach you how to use
them; you should belabour the rogue; don’t you leave him alone.” And so the battle grows; the
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robbers increase in numbers; your neighbours have deliberately put themselves to inconvenience.
Thus the result of wanting to take revenge upon the robber is that you have disturbed your own
peace; you are in perpetual fear of being robbed and assaulted; your courage has given place to
cowardice. If you will patiently examine the argument, you will see that I have not overdrawn
the picture. This is one of the means. Now let us examine the other. You set this armed robber
down as an ignorant brother; you intend to reason with him at a suitable opportunity: you argue
that he is, after all, a fellow-man; you do not know what prompted him to steal. You, therefore,
decide that, when you can, you will destroy the man’s motive for stealing. Whilst you are thus
reasoning with yourself, the man comes again to steal. Instead of being angry with him you take
pity on him. You think that this stealing habit must be a disease with him. Henceforth, you,
therefore, keep your doors and windows open, you change your sleeping-place, and you keep
your things in a manner most accessible to him. The robber comes again and is confused as all
this is new to him; nevertheless, he takes away your things. But his mind is agitated. He inquires
about you in the village, he comes to learn about your broad and loving heart, he repents, he
begs your pardon, returns you your things, and leaves off the stealing habit. He becomes your
servant, and you find for him honourable employment. This is the second method. Thus, you
see, different means have brought about totally different results. I do not wish to deduce from
this that robbers will act in the above manner or that all will have the same pity and love like
you, but I only wish to show that fair means alone can produce fair results, and that, at least in
the majority of cases, if not indeed in all, the force of love and pity is infinitely greater than the
force of arms. There is harm in the exercise of brute force, never in that of pity.
Now we will take the question of petitioning. It is a fact beyond dispute that a petition,
without the backing of force is useless. However, the late Justice Ranade used to say that petitions
served a useful purpose because they were a means of educating people. They give the latter an
idea of their condition and warn the rulers. From this point of view, they are not altogether
useless. A petition of an equal is a sign of courtesy; a petition from a slave is a symbol of his
slavery. A petition backed by force is a petition from an equal and, when he transmits his demand
in the form of a petition, it testifies to his nobility. Two kinds of force can back petitions. “We
shall hurt you if you do not give this,” is one kind of force; it is the force of arms, whose evil
results we have already examined. The second kind of force can thus be stated; “If you do not
concede our demand, we shall be no longer your petitioners. You can govern us only so long as
we remain the governed; we shall no longer have any dealings with you.” The force implied in
this may be described as love-force, soul-force, or, more popularly but less accurately, passive
resistance. This force is indestructible. He who uses it perfectly understands his position. We
have an ancient proverb which literally means; “One negative cures thirty-six diseases.” The
force of arms is powerless when matched against the force of love or the soul.
Now we shall take your last illustration, that of the child thrusting its foot into fire. It will
not avail you. What do you really do to the child? Supposing that it can exert so much physical
force that it renders you powerless and rushes into fire, then you cannot prevent it. There are
only two remedies open to you ? either you must kill it in order to prevent it from perishing in
the flames, or you must give your own life because you do not wish to see it perish before your
very eyes. You will not kill it. If your heart is not quite full of pity, it is possible that you will
not surrender yourself by preceding the child and going into the fire yourself. You, therefore,
helplessly allow it to go into the flames. Thus, at any rate, you are not using physical force. I
hope you will not consider that it is still physical force, though of a low order, when you would
forcibly prevent the child from rushing towards the fire if you could. That force is of a different
order and we have to understand what it is.
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Remember that, in thus preventing the child, you are minding entirely its own interest, you
are exercising authority for its sole benefit. Your example does not apply to the English. In using
brute force against the English you consult entirely your own, that is the national, interest. There
is no question here either of pity or of love. If you say that the actions of the English, being evil,
represent fire, and that they proceed to their actions through ignorance, and that therefore they
occupy the position of a child and that you want to protect such a child, then you will have to
overtake every evil action of that kind by whomsoever committed and, as in the case of the evil
child, you will have to sacrifice yourself. If you are capable of such immeasurable pity, I wish
you well in its exercise.
Reader: Is there any historical evidence as to the success of what you have called soul-
force or truth-force? No instance seems to have happened of any nation having risen through
soul-force. I still think that the evil-doers will not cease doing evil without physical punishment.
Editor: The poet Tulsidas has said: “Of religion, pity, or love, is the root, as egotism of
the body. Therefore, we should not abandon pity so long as we are alive.” This appears to me
to be a scientific truth. I believe in it as much as I believe in two and two being four. The force
of love is the same as the force of the soul or truth. We have evidence of its working at every
step. The universe would disappear without the existence of that force. But you ask for historical
evidence. It is, therefore, necessary to know what history means. The Gujarati equivalent means:
“It so happened”. If that is the meaning of history, it is possible to give copious evidence. But, if
it means the doings of the kings and emperors, there can be no evidence of soul-force or passive
resistance in such history. You cannot expect silver ore in a tin mine. History, as we know it, is a
record of the wars of the world, and so there is a proverb among Englishmen that a nation which
has no history, that is, no wars, is a happy nation. How kings played, how they became enemies
of one another, how they murdered one another, is found accurately recorded in history, and if
this were all that had happened in the world, it would have been ended long ago. If the story of
the universe had commenced with wars, not a man would have been found alive today. Those
people who have been warred against have disappeared as, for instance, the natives of Australia
of whom hardly a man was left alive by the intruders. Mark, please, that these natives did not use
soul-force in self-defence, and it does not require much foresight to know that the Australians
will share the same fate as their victims. “Those that take the sword shall perish by the sword.”
With us the proverb is that professional swimmers will find a watery grave.
The fact that there are so many men still alive in the world shows that it is based not on the
force of arms but on the force of truth or love. Therefore, the greatest and most unimpeachable
evidence of the success of this force is to be found in the fact that, in spite of the wars of the
world, it still lives on.
Thousands, indeed tens of thousands, depend for their existence on a very active working of
this force. Little quarrels of millions of families in their daily lives disappear before the exercise
of this force. Hundreds of nations live in peace. History does not and cannot take note of this
fact. History is really a record of every interruption of the even working of the force of love or
of the soul. Two brothers quarrel; one of them repents and re-awakens the love that was lying
dormant in him; the two again begin to live in peace; nobody takes note of this. But if the two
brothers, through the intervention of solicitors or some other reason take up arms or go to law
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? which is another form of the exhibition of brute force, ? their doings would be immediately
noticed in the press, they would be the talk of their neighbours and would probably go down to
history. And what is true of families and communities is true of nations. There is no reason to
believe that there is one law for families and another for nations. History, then, is a record of an
interruption of the course of nature. Soul-force, being natural, is not noted in history.
Reader: According to what you say, it is plain that instances of this kind of passive resis-
tance are not to be found in history. It is necessary to understand this passive resistance more
fully. It will be better, therefore, if you enlarge upon it.
Editor: Passive resistance is a method of securing rights by personal suffering; it is the
reverse of resistance by arms. When I refuse to do a thing that is repugnant to my conscience,
I use soul-force. For instance, the Government of the day has passed a law which is applicable
to me. I do not like it. If by using violence I force the Government to repeal the law. I am
employing what may be termed body-force. If I do not obey the law and accept the penalty for
its breach, I use soul-force. It involves sacrifice of self.
Everybody admits that sacrifice of self is infinitely superior to sacrifice of others. Moreover,
if this kind of force is used in a cause that is unjust, only the person using it suffers. He does
not make others suffer for his mistakes. Men have before now done many things which were
subsequently found to have been wrong. No man can claim that he is absolutely in the right or
that a particular thing is wrong because he thinks so, but it is wrong for him so long as that is his
deliberate judgment. It is therefore meet that he should not do that which he knows to be wrong,
and suffer the consequence whetever it may be. This is the key to the use of soul-force.
Reader: You would then disregard laws ? this is rank disloyalty. We have always been
considered a law-abiding nation. You seem to be going even beyond the extremists. They say
that we must obey the laws that have been passed, but that if the laws be bad, we must drive out
the law- givers even by force.
Editor: Whether I go beyond them or whether I do not is a matter of no consequence to
either of us. We simply want to find out what is right and to act accordingly. The real meaning
of the statement that we are a law-abiding nation is that we are passive resisters. When we do
not like certain laws, we do not break the heads of law-givers but we suffer and do not submit
to the laws. That we should obey laws whether good or bad is a newfangled nation. There was
no such thing in former days. The people disregarded those laws they did not like and suffered
the penalties for their breach. It is contrary to our manhood if we obey laws repugnant to our
conscience. Such teaching is opposed to a religion and means slavery. If the Government were
to ask us to go about without any clothing, should we do so? If I were a passive resister, I would
say to them that I would have nothing to do with their law. But we have so forgotten ourselves
and become so compliant that we do not mind degrading law.
A man who has realized his manhood, who fears only God, will fear no one else. Man-made
laws are not necessarily binding on him. Even the Government does not expect any such things
from us. They do not say: “You must do such and such a thing.” but they say: “If you do not
do it, we will punish you.” We are sunk so low that we fancy that it is our duty and our religion
to do what the law lays down. If man will only realize that it is unmanly to obey laws that are
unjust, no man’s tyranny will enslave him. This is the key to self-rule or home-rule.
It is a superstition and ungodly thing to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority.
Many examples can be given in which acts of majorities will be found to have been wrong and
those of minorities to have been right. All reforms owe their origin to the initiation of minorities
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in opposition to majorities. If among a band of robbers a knowledge of robbing is obligatory, is
a pious man to accept the obligation? So long as the superstition that men should obey unjust
laws exists, so long will their slavery exist. And a passive resister alone can remove such a
To use brute force, to use gunpowder, is contrary to passive resistance, for it means that we
want our opponent to do by force that which we desire but he does not. And if such a use of
force is justifiable, surely he is entitled to do likewise by us. And so we should never come to
an agreement. We may simply fancy, like the blind horse moving in a circle round a mill, that
we are making progress. Those who believe that they are not bound to obey laws which are
repugnant to their consience have only the remedy of passive resistance open to them. Any other
must lead to disaster.
Reader: From what you say I deduce that passive resistance is a splendid weapon of the
weak, but that when they are strong they may take up arms.
Editor: This is gross ignorance. Passive resistance, that is, soul-force, is matchless. It
is superior to the force of arms. How, then, can it be considered only a weapon of the weak?
Physical-force men are strangers to the courage that is requisite in a passive resister. Do you
believe that a coward can ever disobey a law that he dislikes? Extremists are considered to be
advocates of brute force. Why do they, then, talk about obeying laws? I do not blame them. They
can say nothing else. When they succeed in driving out the English and they themselves become
governors, they will want you and me to obey their laws. And that is a fitting thing for their
constitution. But a passive resister will say he will not obey a law that is against his conscience,
even though he may be blown to pieces at the mouth of a cannon.
What do you think? Wherein is courage required ? in blowing others to pieces from behind
a cannon, or with a smiling face to approach a cannon and be blown to pieces? Who is the true
warrior ? he who keeps death always as a bosom-friend, or he who controls the death of others?
Believe me that a man devoid of courage and manhood can never be a passive resister.
This however, I will admit : that even a man weak in body is capable of offering this resis-
tance. One man can offer it just as well as millions. Both men and women can indulge in it.
It does not require the training of an army; it needs no jiujitsu. Control over the mind is alone
necessary, and when that is attained, man is free like the king of the forest and his very glance
withers the enemy.
Passive resistance is an all-sided sword, it can be used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and
him against whom it is used. Without drawing a drop of blood it produces far-reaching results.
It never rusts and cannot be stolen. Competition between passive resisters does not exhaust. The
sword of passive resistance does not require a scabbard. It is strange indeed that you should
consider such a weapon to be a weapon merely of the weak.
Reader: You have said that passive resistance is a speciality of India. Have cannons never
been used in India?
Editor: Evidently, in your opinion, India means its few princes. To me it means its teeming
millions on whom depends the existence of its princes and our own.
Kings will always use their kingly weapons. To use force is bred in them. They want to
command, but those who have to obey commands do not want guns; and these are in a majority
throughout the would. They have to learn either body-force or soul-force. Where they learn
the former, both the rulers and the ruled become like so many madmen: but where they learn
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soul-force, the commands of the rulers do not go beyond the point of their swords, for true men
disregard unjust commands. Peasants have never been subdued by the sword, and never will be.
They do not know the use of the sword, and they are not frightened by the use of it by others.
That nation is great which rests its head upon death as its pillow. Those who defy death are
free from all fear. For those who are labouring under the delusive charms of brute-force, this
picture is not overdrawn. The fact is that, in India, the nation at large has generally used passive
resistance in all departments of life. We cease to co-operate with our rulers when they displease
us. This is passive resistance.
I remember an instance when, in a small principality, the villagers were offended by some
command issued by the prince. The former immediately began vacating the village. The prince
became nervous, apologized to his subjects and withdrew his command. Many such instances
can be found in India. Real Home Rule is possible only where passive resistance is the guiding
force of the people. Any other rule is foreign rule.
Reader: Then you will say that it is not at all necessary for us to train the body?
Editor: I will certainly not say any such thing. It is difficult to become a passive resister
unless the body is trained. As a rule, the mind, residing in a body that has become weakened by
pampering, is also weak, and where there is no strength of mind there can be no strength of soul.
We shall have to improve our physique by getting rid of infant marriages and luxurious living. If
I were to ask a man with a shattered body to face a cannon’s mouth I should make a laughing-
stock of myself.
Reader: From what you say, then, it would appear that it is not a small thing to become a
passive resister, and, if that is so, I should like you to explain how a man may become one.
Editor: To become a passive resister is easy enough but it is also equally difficult. I have
known a lad of fourteen years become a passive resister; I have known also sick people do
likewise: and I have also known physically strong and otherwise happy people unable to take
up passive resistance. After a great deal of experience it seems to me that those who want to
become passive resisters for the service of the country have to observe perfect chastity, adopt
poverty, follow truth, and cultivate fearlessness.
Chastity is one of the greatest disciplines without which the mind cannot attain requisite
firmness. A man who is unchaste loses stamina, becomes emasculated and cowardly. He whose
mind is given over to animal passions is not capable of any great effort. This can be proved by
innumerable instances. What, then, is a married person to do is the question that arises naturally;
and yet it need not. When a husband and wife gratify the passions, it is no less an animal
indulgence on that account. Such an indulgence, except for perpetuating the race, is strictly
prohibited. But a passive resister has to avoid even that very limited indulgence because he can
have no desire for progeny. A married man, therefore, can observe perfect chastity. This subject
is not capable of being treated at greater length. Several questions arise: How is one to carry
one’s wife with one, what are her rights, and other similar questions. Yet those who wish to take
part in a great work are bound to solve these puzzles.
Just as there is necessity for chastity, so is there for poverty. Pecuniary ambition and passive
resistance cannot well go together. Those who have money are not expected to throw it away,
but they are expected to be indifferent about it. They must be prepared to lose every penny rather
than give up passive resistance.
Passive resistance has been described in the course of our discussion as truth-force. Truth,
therefore, has necessarily to be followed and that at any cost. In this connection, academic
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
questions such as whether a man may not lie in order to save a life, etc., arise, but these questions
occur only to those who wish to justify lying. Those who want to follow truth every time are not
placed in such a quandary; and if they are, they are still saved from a false position.
Passive resistance cannot proceed a step without fearlessness. Those alone can follow the
path of passive resistance who are free from fear, whether as to their possessions, false honour,
their relatives, the government, bodily injuries or death.
These observances are not to be abandoned in the belief that they are difficult. Nature has
implanted in the human breast ability to cope with any difficulty or suffering that may come to
man unprovoked. These qualities are worth having, even for those who do not wish to serve the
country. Let there be no mistake, as those who want to train themselves in the use of arms are
also obliged to have these qualities more or less. Everybody does not become a warrior for the
wish. A would-be warrior will have to observe chastity and to be satisfied with poverty as his
lot. A warrior without fearlessness cannot be conceived of. It may be thought that he would
not need to be exactly truthful, but that quality follows real fearlessness. When a man abandons
truth, he does so owing to fear in some shape or form. The above four attributes, then, need not
frighten anyone. It may be as well here to note that a physical-force man has to have many other
useless qualities which a passive resister never needs. And you will find that whatever extra
effort a swordsman needs is due to lack of fearlessness. If he is an embodiment of the latter,
the sword will drop from his hand that very moment. He does not need its support. One who is
free from hatred requires no sword. A man with a stick suddenly came face to face with a lion
and instinctively raised his weapon in self-defence. The man saw that he had only prated about
fearlessness when there was none in him. That moment he dropped the stick and found himself
free from all fear.
Reader: In the whole of our discussion, you have not demonstrated the necessity for ed-
ucation: we always complain of its absence among us. We notice a movement for compulsory
education in our country. The Maharaja Gaekwar has introduced it in his territories. Every eye
is directed towards them. We bless the Maharaja for it. Is all this effort then of no use ?
Editor: If we consider our civilization to be the highest, I have regretfully to say that much
of the effort you have described is of no use. The motive of the Maharaja and other great leaders
who have been working in this direction is perfectly pure. They, therefore, undoubtedly deserve
great praise. But we cannot conceal from ourselves the result that is likely to flow from their
What is the meaning of education ?’ It simply means a knowledge of letters. It is merely
an instrument, and an instrument may be well used or abused. The same instrument that may
be used to cure a patient may be used to take his life, and so may a knowledge of letters. We
daily observe that many men abuse it and very few make good use of it; and if this is a correct
statement, we have proved that more harm has been done by it than good.
The ordinay meaning of education is a knowledge of letters. To teach boys reading, writing
and arithmetic is called primary education. A peasant earns his bread honestly. He has ordinary
knowledge of the world. He knows fairly well how he should behave towards his parents, his
wife, his children and his fellow villagers. He understands and observes the rules of morality.
But he cannot write his own name. What do you propose to do by giving him a knowledge of
letters? Will you add an inch to his happiness ? Do you wish to make him discontented with his
cottage or his lot? And even if you want to do that, he will not need such an education. Carried
away by the flood of western thought we came to the conclusion, without weighing pros and
cons, that we should give this kind of education to the people.
Now let us take higher education. I have learned Geography, Astronomy, Algebra, Geometry,
etc. What of that? In what way have I benefited myself or those around me? Why have I learned
these things? Professor Huxley has thus defined education: “That man I think has had a liberal
education who has been so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will and does
with ease and pleasure all the work that as a mechanism it is capable of; whose intellect is a clear,
cold, logic engine with all its parts of equal strength and in smooth working order.. .whose mind
is stored with a knowledge of the fundamental truths of nature . . . whose passions are trained to
come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender conscience . . .who has learnt to hate all
vileness and to respect others as himself. Such a one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
education, for he is in harmony with nature. He will make the best of her and she of him.”
If this is true education. I must emphatically say that the sciences I have enumerated above I
have a never been able to use for controlling my senses. Therefore, whether you take elementary
education or higher education, it is not required for the main thing. It does not make men of us.
It does not enable us to do our duty.
Reader: If that is so, I shall have to ask you another question. What enables you to tell all
these things to me ? If you had not received higher education, how would you have been able to
explain to me the things that you have?
Editor: You have spoken well. But my answer is simple: I do not for one moment believe
that my life would have been wasted, had I not received higher or lower education. Nor do I
consider that I necessarily serve because I speak. But I do desire to serve and in endeavouring to
fulfil that desire, I make use of the education I have received. And, if I am making good use of
it, even then it is not for the millions, but I can use it only for such as you, and this supports my
contention. Both you and I have come under the bane of what is mainly false education. I claim
to have become free from its ill effect, and I am trying to give you the benefit of my experience
and in doing so, I am demonstrating the rottenness of this education.
Moreover, I have not run down a knowledge of letters in all circumstances. All I have now
shown is that we must not make of it a fetish. It is not our Kamadhuk. In its place it can be of
use and it has its place when we have brought our senses under subjection and put our ethics on
a firm foundation. And then, if we feel inclined to receive that education, we may make good
use of it. As an ornament it is likely to sit well on us. It now follows that it is not necessary to
make this education compulsory. Our ancient school system is enough. Character building has
the first place in it and that is primary education. A building erected on that foundation will last.
Reader: Do I then understand that you do not consider English education necessary for
obtaining Home Rule ?
Editor: My answer is yes and no. To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave
them. The foundation that Macaulay laid of education has enslaved us. I do not suggest that he
has any such intention, but that has been the result. Is it not a sad commentary that we should
have to speak of Home Rule in a foreign tongue?
And it is worthy of note that the systems which the Europeans have discarded are the systems
in vogue among us. Their learned men continually make changes. We ignorantly adhere to their
cast-off systems. They are trying each division to improve its own status. Wales is a small portion
of England. Great efforts are being made to revive a knowledge of Welsh among Welshmen. The
English Chancellor, Mr. Lloyd George is taking a leading part in the movement to make Welsh
children speak Welsh. And what is our condition? We write to each other in faulty English, and
from this even our M.A.s are not free; our best thoughts are expressed in English; the proceedings
of our Congress are conducted in English; our best newspapers are printed in English. If this state
of things continues for a long time, posterity will ? it is my firm opinion ? condemn and curse
It is worth noting that, by receiving English education, we have enslaved the nation. Hypocrisy,
tyranny, etc., have increased; English-knowing Indians have not hesitated to cheat and strike ter-
ror into the people. Now, if we are doing anything for the people at all, we are paying only a
portion of the debt due to them.
Is it not a painful thing that, if I want to go to a court of justice, I must employ the English
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language as a medium, that when I become a barrister, I may not speak my mother tongue and
that someone else should have to translate to me from my own language? Is not this absolutely
absurd? Is it not a sign of slavery? Am I to blame the English for it or myself? It is we, the
English-knowing Indians, that have enslaved India. The curse of the nation will rest not upon the
English but upon us.
I have told you that my answer to your last question is both yes and no. I have explained to
you why it is yes. I shall now explain why it is no.
We are so much beset by the disease of civilization, that we cannot altogether do without
English-education. Those who have already received it may make good use of it wherever nec-
essary. In our dealings with the English people, in our dealings with our own people, when we
can only correspond with them through that language, and for the purpose of knowing how dis-
gusted they (the English) have themselves become with their civilization, we may use or learn
English, as the case may be. Those who have studied English will have to teach morality to their
progeny through their mother tongue and to teach them another Indian language; but when they
have grown up, they may learn English, the ultimate aim being that we should not need it. The
object of making money thereby should be eschewed. Even in learning English to such a limited
extent we shall have to consider what we should learn through it and what we should not. It
will be necessary to know what sciences we should learn. A little thought should show you that
immediately we cease to care for English degrees, the rulers will prick up their ears.
Reader: Then what education shall we give ?
Editor: This has been somewhat considered above, but we will consider it a little more. I
think that we have to improve all our languages. What subjects we should leam through them
need not be elaborated here. Those English books which are valuable, we should translate into
the various Indian languages. We should abandon the pretension of learning many sciences. Re-
ligious, that is ethical, education will occupy the first place. Every cultured Indian will know
in addition to his own provincial language, if a Hindu, Sanskrit ; if a Mahomedan, Arabic ; if a
Parsee, Persian ; and all, Hindi. Some Hindus should know Arabic and Persian ; some Mahome-
dans and Parsees, Sanskrit. Several Northerners and Westerners should learn Tamil. A universal
language for India should be Hindi, with the option of writing it in Persian or Nagari characters.
In order that the Hindus and the Mahomedans may have closer relations, it is necessary to know
both the characters. And, if we can do this, we can drive the English language out of the field in a
short time. All this is necessary for us, slaves. Through our slavery the nation has been enslaved,
and it will be free with our freedom.
Reader: The question of religious education is very difficult.
Editor: Yet we cannot do without it. India will never be godless. Rank atheism cannot
flourish in this land. The task is indeed difficult. My head begins to turn as I think of religious
education. Our religious teachers are hypocritical and selfish; they will have to be approached.
The Mullas, the Dasturs and the Brahmins hold the key in their hands, but if thev will not have
the good sense, the energy that we have derived from English education will have to be devoted
to religious education. This is not very difficult. Only the fringe of the ocean has been polluted
and it is those who are within the fringe who alone need cleansing. We who come under this
category can even cleanse ourselves because my remarks do not apply to the millions. In order
to restore India to its pristine condition, we have to return to it. In our own civilization there will
naturally be progress, retrogression, reforms, and reactions; but one effort is required, and that is
to drive out Western civilization. All else will follow.
Reader: When you speak of driving out Western civilization, I suppose you will also say
that we want no machinery.
Editor: By raising this question, you have opened the wound I have received. When I read
Mr. Dutt’s Economic History of India. I wept ; and as I think of it again my heart sickens. It is
machinery that has impoverished India. It is difficult to measure the harm that Manchester has
done to us. It is due to Manchester that Indian handicraft has all but disappeared.
But I make a mistake. How can Manchester be blamed ? We wore Manchester cloth and this
is why Manchester wove it. I was delighted when I read about the bravery of Bengal. There were
no clothmills in that presidency. They were, therefore, able to restore the original hand-weaving
occupation. It is true Bengal encourages the mill-industry of Bombay. If Bengal had proclaimed
a boycott of all machine-made goods, it would have been much better.
Machinery has begun to desolate Europe. Ruination is now knocking at the English gates.
Machinery is the chief symbol of modern civilization ; it represents a great sin.
The workers in the mills of Bombay have become slaves. The condition of the women
working in the mills is shocking. When there were no mills, these women were not starving. If
the machinery craze grows in our country, it will become an unhappy land. It may be considered
a heresy, but I am bound to say that it were better for us to send money to Manchester and to
use flimsy Manchester cloth than to multiply mills in India. By using Manchester cloth we only
waste our money ; but by reproducing Manchester in India, we shall keep our money at the price
of our blood, because our very moral being will be sapped, and I call in support of my statement
the very mill-hands as witnesses. And those who have amassed wealth out of factories are not
likely to be better than other rich men. It would be folly to assume that an Indian Rockefeller
would be better than the American Rockefeller. Impoverished India can become free, but it will
be hard for any India made rich through immorality to regain its freedom. I fear we shall have to
admit that moneyed men support British rule ; their interest is bound up with its stability. Money
renders a man helpless. The other thing which is equally harmful is sexual vice. Both are poison.
A snake-bite is a lesser poison than these two, because the former merely destroys the body but
the latter destroy body, mind and soul. We need not, therefore, be pleased with the prospect of
the growth of the mill-industry.
Reader: Are the mills, then, to be closed down ?
Editor: That is difficult. It is no easy task to do away with a thing that is established. We,
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
therefore, say that the non-beginning of a thing is supreme wisdom. We cannot condemn mill-
owners ; we can but pity them. It would be too much to expect them to give up their mills, but
we may implore them not to increase them. If they would be good they would gradually contract
their business. They can establish in thousands of households the ancient and sacred handlooms
and they can buy out the cloth that may be thus woven. Whether the mill-owners do this or not,
people can cease to use machine-made goods.
Reader: You have so far spoken about machine-made cloth, but there are innumerable
machine-made things. We have either to import them or to introduce machinery into our country.
Editor: Indeed, our gods even are made in Germany. What need, then, to speak of matches,
pins and glassware? My answer can be only one. What did India do before these articles were
introduced? Precisely the same should be done today. As long as we cannot make pins without
machinery so long will we do without them. The tinsel splendour of glassware we will have noth-
ing to do with, and we will make wicks, as of old, with home-grown cotton and use handmade
earthen saucers for lamps. So doing, we shall save our eyes and money and support Swadeshi
and so shall we attain Home Rule.
It is not to be conceived that all men will do all these things at one time or that some men
will give up all machine-made things at once. But, if the thought is sound, we shall always find
out what we can give up and gradually cease to use it. What a few may do, others will copy; and
the movement will grow like the cocoanut of the mathematical problem. What the leaders do,
the populace will gladly do in turn. The matter is neither complicated nor difficult. You and I
need not wait until we can carry others with us. Those will be the losers who will not do it, and
those who will not do it, although they appreciate the truth, will deserve to be called cowards.
Reader: What, then, of the tram-cars and electricity?
Editor: This question is now too late. It signifies nothing. If we are to do without the
railways we shall have to do without the tram-cars. Machinery is like a snake-hole which may
contain from one to a hundred snakes. Where there is machinery there are large cities; and
where there are large cities, there are tram-cars and railways ; and there only does one see
electric light. English villages do not boast of any of these things. Honest physicians will
tell you that where means of artificial locomotion have increased, the health of the people has
suffered. I remember that when in a European town there was a scarcity of money, the receipts
of the tramway company, of the lawyers and of the doctors went down and people were less
unhealthy. I cannot recall a single good point in connection with machinery. Books can be
written to demonstrate its evils.
Reader: Is it a good point or a bad one that all you are saying will be printed through
Editor: This is one of those instances which demonstrate that sometimes poison is used
to kill poison. This, then, will not be a good point regarding machinery. As it expires, the
machinery, as it were, says to us: “Beware and avoid me. You will derive no benefits from me
and the benefit that may accrue from printing will avail only those who are infected with the
Do not, therefore, forget the main thing. It is necessary to realize that machinery is bad. We
shall then be able gradually to do away with it. Nature has not provided any way whereby we
may reach a desired goal all of a sudden. If, instead of welcoming machinery as a boon, we
should look upon it as an evil, it would ultimately go.
Reader: From your views I gather that you would form a third party. You are neither an
extremist nor a moderate.
Editor: That is a mistake. I do not think of a third party at all. We do not all think alike.
We cannot say that all the moderates hold identical views. And how can those who want only
to serve have a party? I would serve both the moderates and the extremists. Where I differ from
them, I would respectfully place my position before them and continue my service.
Reader: What, then, would you say to both the parties?
Editor: I would say to the extremists: “I know that you want Home Rule for India; it is
not to be had for your asking. Everyone will have to take it for himself. What others get for me
is not Home Rule but foreign rule; therefore, it would not be proper for you to say that you have
obtained Home Rule if you have merely expelled the English. I have already described the true
nature of Home Rule. This you would never obtain by force of arms. Brute-force is not natural
to Indian soil. You will have, therefore, to rely wholly on soul-force. You must not consider that
violence is necessary at any stage for reaching our goal.”
I would say to the moderates: “Mere petitioning is derogatory; we thereby confess inferior-
ity. To say that British rule is indispensable, is almost a denial of the Godhead. We cannot say
that anybody or anything is indispensable except God. Moreover, common sense should tell us
that to state that, for the time being, the presence of the English in India is a necessity, is to make
“If the English vacated India, bag and baggage, it must not be supposed that she would be
widowed. It is possible that those who are forced to observe peace under their pressure would
fight after their withdrawal. There can be no advantage in suppressing an eruption; it must have
its vent. If, therefore, before we can remain at peace, we must fight amongst ourselves, it is
better that we do so. There is no occasion for a third party to protect the weak. It is this so-called
protection which has unnerved us. Such protection can only make the weak weaker. Unless we
realize this, we cannot have Home Rule. I would paraphrase the thought of an English divine
and say that anarchy under Home Rule were better than orderly foreign rule. Only, the meaning
that the learned divine attached to Home Rule is different from Indian Home Rule according to
my conception. We have to learn, and to teach others, that we do not want the tyranny of either
English rule or Indian rule.”
If this idea were carried out, both the extremists and the moderates could join hands. There
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
is no occasion to fear or distrust one another.
Reader: What, then, would you say to the English ?
Editor: To them I would respectfully say: “I admit you are my rulers. It is not necessary to
debate the question whether, you hold India by the sword or by my consent. I have no objection
to your remaining in my country, but although you are the rulers, you will have to remain as
servants of the people. It is not we who have to do as you wish, but it is you who have to do as
we wish. You may keep the riches that you have drained away from this land, but you may not
drain riches henceforth. Your function will be, if you so wish, to police India; you must abandon
the idea of deriving any commercial benefit from us. We hold the civilization that you support
to be the reverse of civilization. We consider our civilization to be far superior to yours. If you
realize this truth, it will be to your advantage and, if you do not, according to your own proverb,
you should only live in our country in the same manner as we do. You must not do anything
that is contrary to our religions. It is your duty as rulers that for the sake of the Hindus you
should eschew beef, and for the sake of Mahomedans you should avoid bacon and ham. We have
hitherto said nothing because we have been cowed down, but you need not consider that you
have not hurt our feelings by your conduct. We are not expressing our sentiments either through
base selfishness or fear, but because it is our duty now to speak out boldly. We consider your
schools and law courts to be useless. We want our own ancient schools and courts to be restored.
The common language of India is not English but Hindi. You should, therefore, learn it. We can
hold communication with you only in our national language.
“We cannot tolerate the idea of your spending money on railways and the military. We see
no occasion for either. You may fear Russia; we do not. When she comes we shall look after
her. If you are with us, we may then receive her jointly. We do not need any European cloth. We
shall manage with articles produced and manufactured at home. You may not keep one eye on
Manchester and the other on India. We can work together only if our interests are identical.
“This has not been said to you in arrogance. You have great military resources. Your naval
power is matchless. If we wanted to fight with you, on your own ground, we should be unable
to do so, but if the above submissions be not acceptable to you, we cease to play the part of the
ruled. You may, if you like, cut us to pieces. You may shatter us at the cannon’s mouth. If you
act contrary to our will, we shall not help you; and without our help, we know that you cannot
move one step forward.
“It is likely that you will laugh at all this in the intoxication of your power. We may not
be able to disillusion you at once ; but if there be any manliness in us, you will see shortly that
your intoxication is suicidal and that your laugh at our expense is an aberration of intellect. We
believe that at heart you belong to a religious nation. We are living in a land which is the source
of religions. How we came together need not be considered, but we can make mutual good use
of our relations.
“You, English, who have come to India are not good specimens of the English nation, nor
can we, almost half-Anglicized Indians, be considered good specimens of the real Indian nation.
If the English nation were to know all you have done, it would oppose many of your actions.
The mass of the Indians have had few dealings with you. If you will abandon your so-called
civilization and search into your own scriptures, you will find that our demands are just. Only
on condition of our demands being fully satisfied may you remain in India ; and if you remain
under those conditions, we shall learn several things from you and you will leam many from us.
So doing we shall benefit each other and the world. But that will happen only when the root of
our relationship is sunk in a religious soil.”
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Reader: What will you say to the nation?
Editor: Who is the nation?
Reader: For our purposes it is the nation that you and I have been thinking of, that is those
of us who are affected by European civilization, and who are eager to have Home Rule.
Editor: To these I would say, “It is only those Indians who are imbued with real love who
will be able to speak to the English in the above strain without being frightened, and only those
can be said to be so imbued who conscientiously believe that Indian civilization is the best and
that the European is a nine days’ wonder. Such ephemeral civilizations have often come and
gone and will continue to do so. Those only can be considered to be so imbued who, having
experienced the force of the soul within themselves, will not cower before brute-force, and will
not, on any account, desire to use brute-force. Those only can be considered to have been so
imbued who are intensely dissatisfied with the present pitiable condition, having already drunk
the cup of poison.
“If there be only one such Indian, he will speak as above to the English and the English will
have to listen to him.
“These are not demands, but they show our mental state. We shall get nothing by asking;
we shall have to take what we want, and we need the requisite strength for the effort and that
strength will be available to him only who will act thus:
1. He will only on rare occasions make use of the English language;
2. If a lawyer, he will give up his profession, and take up a handloom;
3. If a lawyer, he will devote his knowledge to enlightening both his people and the English;
4. If a lawyer, he will not meddle with the quarrels between parties but will give up the courts,
and from his experience induce the people to do likewise;
5. If a lawyer, he will refuse to be a judge, as he will give up his profession;
6. If a doctor, he will give up medicine, and understand that rather than mending bodies, he
should mend souls;
7. If a doctor, he will understand that no matter to what religion he belongs, it is better that
bodies remain diseased rather than that they are cured through the instrumentality of the
diabolical vivisection that is practised in European schools of medicine;
8. Although a doctor, he will take up a hand-loom, and if any patients come to him, will
tell them the cause of their diseases, and will advise them to remove the cause rather than
pamper them by giving useless drugs ; he will understand that if by not taking drugs,
perchance the patient dies, the world will not come to grief and that he will have been
really merciful to him;
9. Although a wealthy man, yet regardless of his wealth, he will speak out his mind and fear
10. If a wealthy man, he will devote his money to establishing hand-looms, and encourage
others to use hand-made goods by wearing them himself;
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
11. Like every other Indian, he will know that this is a time for repentance, expiation and
12. Like every other Indian, he will know that to blame the English is useless, that they came
because of us, and remain also for the same reason, and that they will either go or change
their nature only when we reform ourselves;
13. Like others, he will understand that at a time of mourning, there can be no indulgence, and
that, whilst we are in a fallen state, to be in gaol or in banishment is much the best:
14. Like others, he will know that it is superstition to imagine it necessary that we should
guard against being imprisoned in order that we may deal with the people;
15. Like others, he will know that action is much better than speech; that it is our duty to say
exactly what we think and face the consequences and that it will be only then that we shall
be able to impress anybody with our speech;
16. Like others, he will understand that we shall become free only through suffering;
17. Like others, he will understand that deportation for life to the Andamans is not enough
expiation for the sin of encouraging European civilization:
18. Like others, he will know that no nation has risen without suffering; that, even in physical
warfare, the true test is suffering and not the killing of others, much more so in the warfare
of passive resistance;
19. Like others, he will know that it is an idle excuse to say that we shall do a thing when the
others also do it: that we should do what we know to be right, and that others will do it
when they see the way; that when I fancy a particular delicacy, I do not wait till others
taste it: that to make a national effort and to suffer are in the nature of delicacies; and that
to suffer under pressure is no suffering.”
Reader: This is a large order. When will all carry it out?
Editor: You make a mistake. You and I have nothing to do with the others. Let each do his
duty. If I do my duty, that is, serve myself, I shall be able to serve others. Before I leave you, I
will rake the liberty of repeating:
1. Real home -rule is self-rule or self-control.
2. The way to it is passive resistance: that is soul-force or love-force.
3. In order to exert this force, Swadeshi in every sense is necessary.
4. What we want to do should be done, not because we object to the English or because we
want to retaliate but because it is our duty to do so. Thus, supposing that the English
remove the salt-tax, restore our money, give the highest posts to Indians, withdraw the
English troops, we shall certainly not use their machine-made goods, nor use the English
language, nor many of their industries. It is worth noting that these things are, in their
nature, harmful; hence we do not want them. I bear no enmity towards the English but I
do towards their civilization.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
In my opinion, we have used the term “Swaraj” without understanding its real significance.
I have endeavoured to explain it as I understand it, and my conscience testifies that my life
henceforth is dedicated to its attainment.
The following books are recommended for perusal to follow up the study of the foregoing:
The Kingdom of God is Within you: Tolstoy.
What Is Art?: Tolstoy.
The Slavery of Our Times: Tolstoy.
The First Step: Tolstoy.
How Shall We Escape?: Tolstoy.
Letter to a Hindu: Tolstoy.
The White Slaves of England: Sherard.
Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure: Carpenter.
The Fallacy of Speed: Taylor.
A New Crusade: Blount.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience: Thoreau.
Life Without Principle: Thoreau.
Unto This Last: Ruskin.
A Joy For Ever: Ruskin.
Duties of Man: Mazzini.
Defence and Death of Socrates: Plato.
Paradoxes of Civilisation: Max Nordau.
Poverty and Un-British Rule in India: Naoroji.
Economic History of India: Dutt.
Village Communities: Maine.
Testimonies by eminent men
The following extracts from Mr Alfred Webb’s valuable collection, if the testimony given
therein be true, show that the ancient Indian civilisation has little to learn from the modern:
Victor Cousin (1792- 1867)
Founder of systematic eclecticism in philosophy
“On the other hand, when we read with attention the poetical and philosophical movements
of the East, above all, those of India, which are beginning to spread in Europe, we discover there
so many truths, and truths so profound, and which make such a contrast with the meanness of
the results at which the European genius has sometimes stopped, that we are constrained to bend
the knee before that of the East, and to see in this cradle of the human race the native land of the
J. Seymour Keay, MP
Banker in India and India agent (writing in 1883)
“It cannot be too well understood that our position in India has never been in any degree that
of civilians bringing civilisation to savage races. When we landed in India we found there a hoary
civilisation, which during the progress of thousands of years had fitted itself into the character
and adjusted itself to the wants of highly intellectual races. The civilisation was not perfunctory,
but universal and all-pervading — furnishing the country not only with political systems, but
with social and domestic institutions of the most ramified description. The beneficent nature of
these institutions as a whole may be judged of from their effects on the character of he Hindu
race. Perhaps there are no other people in the world who show so much in their characters the
advantageous effects of their own civilisation. They are shrewd in business, acute in reasoning,
thrifty, religious, sober, charitable, obedient to parents, referential to old age, amiable, law-
abiding, compassionate towards the helpless, and patient under suffering.”
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Friedrich Max Mueller, LLD
“If I were to ask myself from what literature we here in Europe, we who have been nurtured
almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish,
may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect,
more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but
a transfigured and eternal life — again I should point to India.”
Michael G. Mulhall, FRSS
Prison population per 100,000 of inhabitants:
Several European States 100 to 230
England and Wales 190
Dictionary of Statistics, Michael G. Mulhall, FRSS: Routledge and Sons, 1899.
Colonel Thomas Munro
Thirty- two years’ service in India
“If a good system of agriculture, unrivalled manufacturing skill, a capacity to produce what-
ever can contribute to convenience or luxury; schools established in every village, for teaching
reading, writing, and arithmetic; the general practice of hospitality and charity among each other;
and above all a treatment of the female sex, full of confidence, respect and delicacy, are among
the signs which denote a civilised people, then the Hindus are not inferior to the nations of Eu-
rope; and if civilisation is to become an article of trade between the two countries, I am convinced
that this country [England] will gain by the import cargo.”
Frederick von Schlegel
“It cannot be denied that the early Indians possessed a knowledge of the true God; all their
writings are replete with sentiments and expressions, noble, clear, and severely grand, as deeply
conceived and reverently expressed as in any human language in which men have spoken of
their God. Among nations possessing indigenous philosophy and metaphysics, together with an
innate relish for these pursuits, such as at present characterises Germany, and, in olden times,
was the proud distinction of Greece, Hindustan holds the first rank in point of time”.
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
Sir William Wedderburn, Bart.
The Indian village has thus for centuries remained a bulwark against political disorder, and
the home of the simple domestic and social virtues. No wonder, therefore, that philosophers and
historians have always dwelt lovingly on this ancient institution which is the natural social unit
and the best type of rural life — self-contained, industries peace-loving, conservative in the best
sense of the word. I think you will agree with me that there is much that is both picturesque and
attractive in this glimpse of social and domestic life in an Indian village. It is a harmless and
happy form of human existence. Moreover, it is not without good practical outcome.”
I. Young, Secretary, Sassoon Mechanics’ Institutes
(within recent years)
“Those races [the Indian], viewed from a moral aspect, are perhaps the most remarkable
people in the world. They breathe an atmosphere of moral purity, which cannot but excite admi-
ration, and this is especially the case with the poorer classes, who, notwithstanding the privations
of their humble lot, appear to be happy and contented. True children of nature, they live on from
day to day, taking no thought of tomorrow, and thankful for the simple fare which Providence
has provided for them. It is curious to witness the spectacle of coolies of both sexes returning
home at night-fall after a hard day’s work often lasting from sunrise to sunset. In spite of fatigue
from the effects of the unremitting toil, they are for the most part gay and animated, convers-
ing cheerfully together and occasionally breaking into snatches of light-hearted song. Yet what
awaits them on their return to the hovels which they call home? A dish of rice for food, and
the floor for a bed. Domestic felicity appears to be the rule among the Natives, and this is the
more strange when the customs of marriage are taken into account, parents arranging all such
matters. Many Indian households afford examples of the married state in its highest degree of
perfection. This may be due to the teachings of the Shastras, and to the strict injunctions which
they inculcate with regard to marital obligations; but it is no exaggeration to say that husbands
are generally devotedly attached to their wives, and in many instances the latter have the most
exalted conception of their duties towards their husbands.”
Abbe J. A. Dubois, Missionary in Mysore
(extracts from a letter dated
Seringapatam 15th December, 1820)
“The authority of married women within their houses is chiefly exerted in preserving good
order and peace among the persons who compose their families; and a great many among them
discharge this important duty with a prudence and a discretion which have scarcely a parallel in
Europe. I have known families composed of between thirty and forty persons, or more, consist-
ing of grown sons and daughters, all married and all having children, living together under the
superintendence of an old matron — their mother or mother-in-law. The latter, by good manage-
ment, and by accommodating herself to the temper of the daughters-in-law, by using, according
to circumstances, firmness or forbearance, succeeded in preserving peace and harmony during
Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule
many years amongst so many females, who had all jarring interests, and still more jarring tem-
pers. I ask you whether it should be possible to attain the same end, in the same circumstances,
in our countries, where it is scarcely possible to make two women living under the same roof to
In fact, there is perhaps no kind of honest employment in a civilised country in which the
Hindu females have not a due share. Besides the management of the household, and the care
of the family, which (as already noticed) is under their control, the wives and daughters of hus-
bandmen attend and assist their husbands and fathers in the labours of agriculture. Those of
tradesmen assist theirs in carrying on their trade. Merchants are attended and assisted by theirs
in their shops. Many females are shopkeepers on their own account; and without a knowledge of
the alphabet or of the decimal scale, they keep by other means their accounts in excellent order,
and are considered as still shrewder than the males themselves in their commercial dealings.”